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SSNIT Saga: Officials Are Candidates For Causing Financial Loss To The State – Lawyer

Authorities at SSNIT could face the law on causing financial loss to the state in a $66m contract to set up ICT infrastructure aimed at improving operations of the pension scheme.

A legal practitioner Martin Kpebu has pointed out, the deal, whose contract has shot up from $34m to $72m ‘definitely seems like a case of causing financial loss to the state.

Officials of the pension institution are reported to have failed in conducting proper due diligence before sinking in the hard earned monies of the pensioners into an automation project.

SSNIT in 2012 contracted Perfect Business Solutions Ltd to set up Operational Business Suite (OBS) which was expected to automate the scheme’s operations.

It is a self- service point which cuts waiting time by allowing contributors and pensioners to print statement of accounts, updates personal information and other services with the help of the SSNIT smart card.

As part of the project, over 50 years administrative, benefits paid files, employer and member’s folders and numerous legacy files were to be digitised, SSNIT has said.

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But the project has come at a cost which some say is outrageously expensive.

Fresh information suggest the officials of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) simply did not understand what it really wanted when it signed an initial $34m ICT contract to automate its pension administration systems.

It turns out, the $34m infrastructure requested by SSNIT was only good enough for the management of provident fund not pensions.

This compelled the Trust to make more than six change orders from 2012 to 2016 in a desperate attempt to get the system working.

But the OBS to date is reportedly not fully functional after millions were pumped into the project.

The former Director-General in his defence said although the ICT infrastructure was procured before he was appointed in May 2013, his checks showed the deal was okay.

“In fact I didn’t find anything wrong with it and the new board did not find anything wrong with it”, he said.

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Discussing the controversial expenditure on News Desk on Joy New Thursday, Accra-based legal practitioner said the emerging facts “do not look good at all” for SSNIT.

He said the managers of SSNIT at the time of the project could be candidate for prosecution using the law on causing financial loss to the state described by Justice Appau as one of Ghana’s best.

The law is explained in Section 179A (3) (a) of the Criminal Offences Act, 1960 (Act 29)

(3) If a person does an act of such a kind or in such a manner as that, if he used reasonable caution and observation, it would appear to him that the act would probably cause or contribute to cause an event, or that there would be great risk of the act causing or contributing to cause an event, he shall be presumed to have intended to cause that event until it is shown that he believed that the act would probably not cause or contribute to cause the event, or that he did not intend to cause or contribute to it.

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Martin Kpebu who spoke on News Desk on Joy News Thursday explained ” to the extent that there wasn’t proper due diligence to ensure that we bought what was actually required then we are talking about causing financial loss”.

He said the law punishes not only deliberately causing financial loss but even omissions that causes financial loss.

He said it must however be proven that the money involved is government funds not private funds.

Kpebu however explained, the National Pensions Act 2008 Act 766 backing the establishment of SSNIT will not make it easy to argue, pension funds does not belong to government.

He also argued SSNIT contributors and pensioners can also sue the managers of SSNIT for mismanaging contributions which they are to hold in trust.

Already Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) is reportedly interrogating five SSNIT staff.