NCCE Boils Over ‘Missing’ Provident Fund
Workers of the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), a constitutional body mandated to create and sustain awareness of constitutional democracy for the achievement of political, economic and social stability through civic education, are at the throat of their management, demanding the whereabouts of their Provident Fund, which has matured.
The workers, led by the Divisional Staff Union of the commission, expressed disquiet about the inability of the NCCE management, led the chairperson, Ms. Kathleen Addy,to facilitate the payment of their Provident Fund.
They want management to seize the deduction of their monies until such a time that the contract with the service providers is reviewed to incorporate clauses that will protect them from any of such eventualities, but this has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
The staff union, led by its chairperson, Rebecca Colecraft, in a series of letters sighted by The Anchor, showed open disappointment at the commission and its partners, who are the fund managers.
The NCCE, per agreement, had employed three service providers, namely Old Mutual, Fidelity Bank and Chapel Hill, for the keeping of the union’s bonds until they are matured.
Respectively, Fidelity Bank and Capitol Hill are keeping and managing the funds, while Old Mutual is providing administrative services to the NCCE.
In a statement to clarify its role, Old Mutual said it does not accept contributions, make payment into individual accounts, advise on where funds are placed, invest funds and receive maturity or do coupon payments of investments.
Previously, under a former NCCE chairperson, Charlotte Osei, workers deducted funds were managed by Donewell.
But in the wake of the brouhaha surrounding the payment of outstanding government bonds, the management, together with the service providers, appear to be struggling with liquidity challenges.
This is after management wrote to these providers, instructing that the moneys should be paid to the workers, and that such action will be embarked upon subject to availability of liquidity.
In the midst of the issues, the unimpressed staff have asked that deduction of their monies be stopped until such a time that the contract with the service providers is reviewed to incorporate clauses that will protect them from any of such eventualities. But this apparently has fallen on deaf ears.
This has forced the union, in a letter, dated March 27, 2023, addressed to the chairperson of the NCCE, Kathleen Addy, to outline measures it wants taken to ensure that the staff receive their money on time and, also, to avert any negative effect on their investment, taking into consideration the value of money.
The union, among others, instructed that management petitions Parliament, arguing that, “Pension Funds are exempted from the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP); however, government unilaterally rolledover a matured bond (cocoa bills) due in January, 2023 to August 2023.”
It said the dishonoring of other bonds and coupons that are due in February and March, 2023, must result in a petition which would call upon Parliament to ensure that government adheres with Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) it signed with Organized Labour, exempting Pensions Fund from the DDEP.
It warned that, the refusal to go by the MoU will lead to “Registering our displeasure to this singular act by government, we shall soon call on Staff to wear red arm bands to work for some time and may review our action once again if we do not get the desired result.”
The workers said management should be ready to provide support in the determination of the matter with the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), in respect of stopping deductions and subsequently exiting the scheme.
Interestingly, a March 3, 2023 circular by the union chairman, Rebecca Colecraft, tried to calm the nerves of staff, after the Divisional Executive Committee meeting with the management during an introduction ceremony for the new leadership.
According to the circular, the meeting focused its attention on the Provident Fund, but the commission said it was yet to meet on the numerous petitions by the workers,and assured it will communicate the next step by close of that week.
Madam Colecraft said, “Hence, appealing through the Divisional leadership for all staff to keep calm while all stakeholders work assiduously to save the situation. We are by this circular entreating all members of staff to be rest assured that leadership is working and doing everything legitimate with our mother Union, the Public Service Workers Union (PSWU) to defend and protect the interest of our members, our Provident Fund money and its related matters.”
Following that circular, another letter, dated March 9, 2023, by the Director Administration, on behalf of Ms. Kathleen Addy, assured the workers that service providers were set to pay requests “In full by 15th March 2023 since Management has agreed with them to ensure they raise money to pay at rates of the applicants. We urge all to be calm as the process re-commences.”
A Ministry of Finance release, dated March 24, also said “Following the Press Release issued by the Ministry of Finance dated Tuesday 14th March, 2023, Government is pleased to announce that additional coupon payments have been made on Thursday 23rd March, 2023. The payments cover coupons on both 2-year note that matured on 20th February, 2023, and the 20-year note due on 20th February, 2023.”
But almost a month after the above release, the workers have still not received their funds.
Additionally, on March 21, another circular by Kathleen Addy indicated payment was about starting on 15 March.
She said, “Management, with the guidance of Service Providers, is working out a schedule of payment based on available liquidity to be determined by maturity payments on our assets. This will be shared with staff in due course.”
Ms. Addy added that “With regards to the outstanding issue of calls for the stoppage of deductions, Management is consulting on an approach that will lead to satisfactory outcomes for all and will advise staff shortly.”
Meanwhile, checks with the workers show the funds have not been paid.
More To Come…