Minority Leader Drops Bomb Over Merchant Bank


Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu
The Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei- Mensah-Bonsu, has revealed that funds used by Fortiz in the controversial Merchant Bank purchase were made available by the Bank of Ghana from the Second Tier Pension Fund.

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu is convinced that the government is only deceiving workers and “bidding for time” as it solicits for funds elsewhere to replace the used money.

IMANI Ghana, a policy think tank, had also stated that Fortiz used the 2nd tier pension funds lodged at the central bank to acquire a 90% stake in Merchant Bank - now known as Universal Merchant Bank – from SSNIT.

Workers in the public and civil service sectors in the past few weeks have been demanding to know where their pension funds have been lodged, how much has accrued and who are behind the Pensions Alliance Trust—the company government has appointed to manage their tier-two pension funds.

In protest, 12 public sector workers’ unions have declared an indefinite strike, bringing the country’s education and health sectors on their knees.

So far, the much talked about tier-two pension funds have risen to a whopping GH¢1.64 billion, according to the central bank—far more than the almost GH¢450 million Haruna Iddrisu, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, had indicated at his recent press conference on the strike.

Pensions Act
Per the Pensions Act, 5.5 per cent of the workers’ salary has to be deducted into a tier-two pension scheme whilst the employer (government) contributes 13 percent to SSNIT.

The new law was passed in 2008, with the year of implementation being 2010.

The first batch of contributors under the tier-two scheme is expected to retire in 2015 but workers want to be assured that their contributions are safe before theygo on retirement.

The Minority Leader, in an interview with Sunyani based Ark FM on Thursday challenged the government to come out and clear the air on the whereabouts of the money.

Untruthful
‘If the Bank of Ghana says the second tier fund is with them they should come out and tell us when the money hit that account and its quantum…This government is not being truthful; has never been truthful to Ghanaians,’ he said.

The Suame MP pointed out, ‘I am saying this unequivocally that, it is this same money they have given to some people to buy Merchant Bank. It is the workers’ money they used and that is the truth.’

NPRA Boss Explains
However, the Chief Executive of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), Laud Senanu, has disclosed that the GH¢1.64 billion figure represents contributions from the public and private sector workers as well as the interest accrued on investment of the funds.

Addressing a press conference in Accra earlier, Mr Senanu is reported to have said that the workers’ contributions were lodged safely into the Temporary Pension Fund Account (TPFA) at the Bank of Ghana, saying that the GH¢1.64 billion was in three components.

The first being the private sector workers’ contributions which were paid to SSNIT and later transferred into the TPFA. According to him, that had netted a total of GH¢521,885,987.36.

The second is the public sector workers’ contributions paid to the Controller and Accountant General’s Department and later transferred to TPFA, which had grossed GH¢488,768,270.73; and the third is the investment component, which had accumulated to over GH¢600 million—all amounting to GH¢1,641,11,027.70.

BY Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson
[email protected]

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