President Nana Akufo-Addo has given additional responsibilities to the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations Ignatius Baffour-Awuah to handle pensions.
The Finance Ministry used to be in charge of pensions.
Pursuant to section 211 of the National Pensions Act, 2008 Act 766 (as amended), “I hereby designate you as the minister responsible for pensions, with immediate effect,” a letter dated 30 January 2023 and signed by the President was addressed to Baffour-Awuah.
The minister will now be responsible for the National Pensions Regulatory Authority and the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).
“I still remain the minister for employment except that I have additional responsibility with oversight of pensions. That’s the simple terms of reference to see over SSNIT and National Pensions Regulatory Authority as my agencies for policy directives,” Baffour-Awuah told Accra-based Citi FM.
The announcement made before Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday (1 February 2023) has sparked debate within the public space as to whether a new ministry has been created or the president is circumventing the rules.
The director of communications at the Office of the President, Eugene Arhin, has provided an explanation on Facebook:
The designation of the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations, Hon. Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, as Minister responsible for Pensions was done in accordance with the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766). It is not going to be a new Ministry, and neither will it recruit new staff, or be allocated a budget. It is only a supervisory role, especially as Hon. Ignatius Baffuor Awuah is already in charge of the National Pensions Regulatory Authority, the regulator of SSNIT.
This is not the first time a Minister has been designated to be responsible for the activities of Pensions in the country. Indeed, following the amendment of the National Pensions Act, 2008, the then Minister for Labour and Employment, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, MP, was assigned by former President John Dramani Mahama as Minister responsible for Pensions. As a result, he assumed responsibility for SSNIT.
Prior to this designation by President Akufo-Addo, the Minister responsible for Pensions was the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta.
However, certain provisions of Act 766, such as Section 13 on ‘Allowances’, states that “Members of the Board and Members of a Committee of the Board shall be paid allowances approved by the Minister, in consultation with the Minister responsible for Finance”. The Minister for Finance, who was also responsible for Pensions, cannot consult himself, for example, in determining the allowances of Board Members. Indeed, there are also specific provisions in Sections 41, 54, 69 and 177 of Act 766 detailing the roles and responsibilities of the Minister for Finance in relation to SSNIT.
It is for this reason that President Akufo-Addo has assigned Hon. Ignatius Baffuor Awuah, in accordance with Act 766, as Minister responsible for Pensions.