Governance in the public sector: Focus on NPRA 

Story: Today Correspondent

A recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)  indicates, based on its actuarial valuation, that  Social Security and National Insurance Trust  (SSNIT) reserves are expected to reach zero by 2036.  Recent controversies surrounding the proposed sale of some of SSNIT’s hotel assets to a current Minister in the Akufo-Addo administration leave much to be desired.  Interestingly, many Ghanaians are not aware who the regulator of SSNIT is.  That regulator has authority to prevent asset sales and ensure the protection of pension funds among other responsibilities, including the funds that are managed by SSNIT.  So who and what the NPRA is and does is of interest to the public at large.  Its management and directors must be known and be accountable to the public.

Today’s investigations show that, the regulator, NPRA has a full board of directors and appears to have focused its attention on private sector pension trustees and fund managers.  NPRA it is alleged has even gone to the extent of taking funds from one pension trustee to another ostensibly to protect assets.  These and other acts positive and negative happen unknown to the public.

While Today waits for the NPRA to respond to the questionnaire the paper  sent to them, we present the following information as our contribution to accountability in the public sector.  

The Today Newspaper through careful and persistent research these past two years, can confirm that over the past seven years, regulators in the financial sector,  particularly  during the tenure of Mr. Ken Ofori-Atta as Minister for Finance & Economic Planning has used ‘governance’ as a hammer to beat industry companies to submission and sometimes pushing them away from the sector through licence  revocations.  

As a media entity, it is incumbent on us to keep shining light on how the regulators themselves perform under governance tests. 

As previously reported, the Today Newspaper has for the past several months been investigating and doing research on governance in the public sector, particularly the financial regulatory section.  The paper has  made contact with the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC), Bank of Ghana (BoG), National Insurance Commission (NIC), National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) and others.  Today Newspaper has also   sent questionnaires to the heads of these regulatory agencies.  Some of them are resisting the attempts to pull them into the public light but   the paper  will continue to publish the names and photographs of the directors of state institutions and follow up to promote accountability.

It is the unfortunate view that it is only politicians who must be held accountable for their stewardship of positions and organizations they are elected or appointed to hold.  The directors are given allowances and get perks some of which are generous.  We want every man and woman who accepts these directorships to know that they are part of the system – an essential part at that.  Therefore, they must pay attention and give sound advice that will promote the wellbeing of the organizations they have become a part of. 

This time, our focus is on the NPRA.

According to its official website, “The National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA) was established by the National Pensions Act 2008, (Act 766) to regulate and monitor the operations of the three-tier pension scheme and ensure effective administration of all pensions in the country.”

The NPRA’s functions officially stated are:

“The functions of the Authority are spelt out in Section 7 of the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766) as follows:

Be responsible for ensuring compliance with this Act (Act 766);

Register occupational pension schemes, provident funds and personal pension schemes;

Issue guidelines for the investment of pension funds;

Approve, regulate and monitor trustees, pension fund managers, custodians and other institutions that deal with pensions as the Authority may determine;

Establish standards, rules and guidelines for the management of pension funds under this Act;

Regulate the affairs and activities of approved trustees and ensure that the trustees administer the registered schemes;

Regulate and monitor the implementation of the Basic National Social Security Scheme;

Carry-out research and ensure the maintenance of a national data bank on pension matters;

Sensitize the public on matters related to the various pension schemes;

Receive and investigate complaints of impropriety in respect of the management of pension schemes;

Promote and encourage the development of the pension scheme industry in the country;

Receive, and investigate grievances from pensioners and provide for redress;

Advise government on the general welfare of pensioners;

Advise government on the overall policy on pensions in the country;

Request information from any employer, trustee, pension fund manager or custodian, any other person or institution on matters related to retirement benefits;

Charge and collect fees as the Authority may determine;

Impose administrative sanctions or fines; and

Perform any other functions that are ancillary to the object of the Authority.”

The  NPRA  is governed  by a  Board  comprising  Chairman, nine (9) non-executive members  and one (1)  executive member (the  Chief Executive Officer of the Authority) 

Section 8 of the National Pensions Act, 2008 (Act 766), specifies a Governing Board of the Authority to consist of representatives of relevant institutions and stakeholders in the Ghanaian Pensions Industry.

Institutions represented are the Bank of Ghana, Securities and Exchange Commission, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice and Attorney-General’s Department.

Associations represented are the Trades Union Congress (Organized Labour), Ghana Employers Association and the National Pensioners Association.

The Board Members are; Mr. Paul Simon Koranteng, chairman, Mr. John Kwaning Mbroh, member, CEO, NPRA  

Hon. Bright Wireko-Brobby, member, Dr. Justice Duffu Yankson, member,  Elsie Addo Awadzi, member,  Mr. Joseph Nii Noi Adumuah,  member and Hon. Sekyere Benjamin Yeboah, member

The rest are Hon. Diana Asonaba Dapaah, member, Rev.Daniel Ogbarmey Tetteh, member, Alexander Nyarko-Opoku, member and Alex Frimpong, member.

 The NPRA just like other regulators has not found the time to respond to our inquiries including some written questionnaires.

We will continue to pursue NPRA management and directors until we get the information the public needs.  We want to know who the pensions players are public and private; how much assets they have managed over the years; the performance of the trustees and fund managers; challenges encountered; the financial performance of NPRA itself; how management and directors are compensated; and many other matters.

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