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Having observed wide underserved traders in the informal sector of the Ghanaian economy, MTN Ghana has launched a new initiative tagged; ‘My Own Pension” to enable low and medium income traders’ save some money for their retirement just as the formal sector.
“My Own Pension,” which goes with the slogan “Pension Papa Paa,” seeks to bridge the gap between the sectors to enable traders to have a capital to rely on when no longer in active service.
This is a voluntary retirement pension plan, which provides secured retirement income to individuals and only MTN Mobile Money (MoMo) subscribers can access the service for convenience and settlement.
It is open to individuals aged 15 years and above. One can choose any of the flexible minimum contributions of GH¢1.00 daily, GH¢5.00 weekly and GH¢20.00 monthly.
Mr Seth Obiri, the Managing Director, United Pension Trustees, said customers need to dial *170# on their phone to select option nine for Pensions and Insurance, follow the prompt, select option one for ‘My Own Pension’ and select option one again to enrol for successful registration.
The initiative, after successful registration, gives customers two benefits of savings, from which they can withdraw after a year of pension.
Mr Eli Hini, the General Manager of MTN Mobile Financing Services, said data from the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) indicate that 85 per cent of Ghana’s labour force was in the informal sector.
This situation, he said, needed structured pensions systems to play a critical role in providing the necessary income for elderly populations and alleviate post-retirement poverty in the country, hence the initiative.
The number of the informal sector workers who had access to social benefits through institutionalised social security schemes was negligible, therefore, leaving an overwhelming majority of Ghana’s labour force out of structured pension arrangements.
Mr Hini said the informal sector workers did not see the need to participate in voluntary pension systems and even comply with mandatory schemes because they saw the strict criteria involved as time consuming and the paperwork cumbersome.
“This has been a challenge. However, this need must be met. It has become necessary to find ways that provided enough flexibility and simplicity to enable workers in the informal sector to access pension benefits,” he stated.
He gave the assurance that MTN was committed to ensuring that customers enjoyed brighter lives not only during their active working years but also in retirement and encouraged them to take advantage of the service.
Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, in a speech read on his behalf, commended MTN and its partner for coming out with the initiative, which falls in line with government’s policies.
He said for MTN and the United Pension Trustees to have such a flexible pension scheme for the informal sector epitomizes the conviction that formalisation of the informal economy would be all-inclusive.
“All these efforts are in tandem with government’s vision of formalizing the economy to accelerate economic growth and sustainable development,” he said.
The Ministry, in collaboration with key stakeholders, had developed an informal economy roadmap to facilitate the transition from the informal to the formal economy.
This, he added, would be validated and launched in due course for mainstreaming and implementation.
Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso I, the President of Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said people retired early and became rich while others retired late and became poor, and this could be attributed to poor planning.
He, therefore, advised individuals to always set their priorities right by attaching much importance to the ‘My Own Pension scheme so that they could support themselves during retirement.
He encouraged Ghanaians in the private sector to learn more about what was available so they could enrol and get the best retirement package for themselves.
Mr Harold Awuah Darko, the Chairman, United Pensions Trustees, expressed gratitude to MTN for sharing in their vision of making pensions available to everyone everywhere.