About 20 pensioners of the Pensioner Bondholders Forum, yesterday picketed at the Ministry of Finance (MoF) in Accra to reiterate their demand for total exemption from government’s Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP).
The pensioners most of whom were too old to walk with others aided to stand clad in red arm bands and held placards some of which read : “Empathise With Pensioners, Tomorrow You Would Be One,” “Pensioners Have Paid Their Dues to the Nation,” “Don’t Disturb Earnings of Pensioners” amongst others, stormed the forecourt of the Ministry.
They demanded that they should be given the same exemption given to Pension Funds being regulated by the National Pensions Regulatory Authority.
Briefing the media, the Convener of the Pensioner Bondholders Forum, Dr Adu Anane Antwi, mentioned that they had presented their grievances with “two officials at the ministry”.
“We briefed them of our purpose here and we are awaiting government’s decision on our exemption from the programme. Failure to do so we will be come back to picket again, depending on the response that we get. We will spend an hour here daily on every working day,” he stated.
The basis for the exemption of the Pension Funds by the government was to ensure that pension incomes to would-be retirees were not impaired for them to become burden on others when on retirement.
However, Dr Antwi stated that such decision from the government would be a “harbinger of doom” to the pensioners.
He explained that the number of pensioners in the informal sector were more than those in the formal sector. Thus, if the government failed to heed to their grievances, the increment of new bonds would affect their cost of living.
“People should note that only few pensioners are receiving SSNIT and with such increment, it will be difficult for us to enjoy some basic services, especially healthcare. The price of drugs have shot up and if the income that we are receiving is halved, how can we afford them?” the convener questioned.
Dr Antwi, therefore, demanded the government to quickly heed to them since most of the pensioners have become burdened and some taken ill.
An aggrieved member in his early sixties, Mr Peter Asante, who broke down in tears, bewailed that the government’s actions were unfair to them rendering them hopeless and impoverished as parents.
“As a father and a family elder, I am daily burdened with financial issues and now withdrawing the money which I have saved has become an issue. How can I assert leadership with empty pockets? As a result of this, I am dying gradually,” he lamented.
BY YUNUSAH ESSANDOH AND KEZIA ACHIAMPONG