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Some senior journalists and hosts of flagship radio and television programmes in Accra have been sensitized on the operations of the Cocoa Farmers Pension Scheme at the Regent Hotel in Accra. The interactive event offered the journalists the opportunity to ask relevant questions about the Scheme to deepen their understanding and provide the needed help to achieve its objectives.
Opening the session, the Deputy Chief Executive in charge of Operations, Dr Emmanuel Opoku lauded the indispensable role played by the media in the implementation of the Scheme and urged them to use their influences to train, educate and inform relevant stakeholders accurately about the Scheme.
‘We know how indispensable you are and how you can influence the direction of the Board in the decision to roll out this scheme,’ he said.
Dr. Opoku described the decision of government as ‘bold and one that requires a great deal of commitment’ and called on the senior media practitioners to attach a sense of patriotism to the Scheme’s operations. He encouraged them to rally behind government to ensure that it operates successfully.
He further indicated that the Scheme would ride on the successes of the Cocoa Management System (CMS) currently being undertaken to build a robust database on cocoa farmers in the country.
The Chief Executive of the National Pensions and Regulatory Authority, Mr. Ata Krufi, gave an extensive overview of the Scheme and its operations, and said the only farmers registered by COCOBOD would be enrolled on to the scheme. He indicated that through a well-structured payment platform, a farmer shall contribute at least 5% of cocoa sold under the Scheme anytime he/she sells cocoa while the government shall support with a minimum of 1% of the value of cocoa sold.
‘We have trained purchasing clerks on the use of a specialized App installed on their mobile phones and this App will aid in all deductions and transactions regarding the scheme,’ he disclosed.
The Chairman of the Implementation Committee, Mr. Osei Akoto explained that all contributions would be transferred into the farmers’ accounts and later invested. He said although a contributor is eligible to retire from the scheme after having contributed for 5 years, farmers who stay on the scheme and build their contributions for longer years stand a better chance of enjoying a more decent pension after retiring from active farming.
He assured that the scheme was safe because all the pre-requisites regarding regulations have been followed strictly in accordance with Pensions Act and other regulatory and legal provisions.
The participants asked questions on the sustainability of scheme; security of funds; transparency in the management of the Scheme and measures taken by government to prevent data duplication in the CMS programme. Responding to these questions, Dr Opoku assured the journalists that a Pilot Phase of the Scheme which took place at New Edubiase subjected the planned procedure to test and the result of the exercise was splendid as some lessons were drawn from the pilot and used to enhance blueprint of the Scheme significantly.
Meanwhile, the scheme has started at New Edubiase with over 2000 cocoa farmers enrolled so far and more farmers expected to get on board.
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