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Harmonize documentation to access funds can reduce poverty-ILAPI Executive Director

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As part of effort to push for a reduction in poverty as a result of administrative barriers through Next of Kin system, the Executive Director of Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI), Mr. Peter Bismark Kwofie has called for a harmonize system of documentation to access funds at institutions such as Banks, Insurance and Pensions.

“Currently as we speak, SSNIT does not request letters of Administration but Banks request letters of Administration and the Insurance also request letters of Administration. So, after going through all these processes, you can not use in SSNIT which comes with another cost to the family. So, we have to streamline the process and harmonize it”.

Mr. Peter Bismark Kwofie in an interview indicated that, the administrative barriers after the death of a person, pushes family into poverty when it comes to accessing the funds at the Bank, Insurance, and Pensions due to the rules and regulations put in please to access a deceased contributor.

The beneficiaries he indicated sometimes, die whilst the account holder is still alive. “So we are looking at such primary reforms on an account opening forms as well as looking at policy to guide Bank of Ghana, Insurance and Pensions to identify the families whose relatives have died in accidents, fire, flood and or missing to give back the funds to families to lift them out of poverty in other to have a prosperous nation.

The service delivery process according to Mr. Bismark Kwofie, pushes people into poverty mentioning the long processes one have to go through at the hands of several institutions before getting documents to access the fund.

“After accessing these documents, the Banks will also request from you other documents which you need funds to access them. When you are done, you have to also wait for investigation which is endless. There is no time duration for the investigation of the Banks, Institutions including Insurance and Pensions as to when your funds would be ready”.

He revealed that, sometimes the person accessing the funds as the next of Kin or beneficiary, would even die in the process adding that, when it happens that way, the fund is still kept with the institutions.

“For example, the Bank of Ghana will take your funds when your account is domant for 5 years and will keep the money for ever. Same applies to Insurance and Pensions. These have put many families into poverty because they are unable to access the funds and if they are not able to access the funds, obviously, the implications leads to school dropout, teenage pregnancy, child trafficking, malnutrition and a whole lot of social vices which equally also puts burden on the government in providing other anti poverty programmes like LEAP”.

He averred that, once people falls into poverty, they then subscribed to LEAP saying, perhaps the funds kept by the institutions could have taken the people out of poverty to release the problem of government. “Such barriers have been put in place, preventing them from accessing the funds”.

He called for a cogent reforms on Banks subscription opening forms, Insurance policy opening forms, and Pension opening forms to ensure that people access their benefits on time, as well as educating the general public to amend their Next of Kins or their beneficiaries.

It was revealed that the unclear documentation and procedures for the beneficiaries, nominees, and Next of Kin to access funds of investment and savings of a deceased family member have crippled families, spouses, and children, increased the inequality gap and many have been enveloped by poverty. Such funds are kept by regulators, corporations, and business firms like the Bank of Ghana, financial institutions, insurance companies, and pension entities.

In the case of a deceased family member who died intestate, the family/spouse/next of kin must hire a lawyer to seek justice for the distribution of the properties. The acquisition of a Letter of Administration (LA) with various consultations renders the process cumbersome and bureaucratic. Other documents include but are not limited to death extract, burial permit, hospital report, police/corona report, mortuary certificate, and employment letters among others. The long delays of justice, cost, and cultural challenges have made families to sometimes abandon the processes.

In the case of financial disbursements; banks, insurance companies, fund management firms and Social Securities like the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) at all times request for documents that are not stated on the forms when applying for savings, investment, or current accounts. In the situations of death or incapacitated of the breadwinner, the institutions would hide behind the court and other laws to keep the funds forever. Families and children that could not follow up for claims, where the savings and investments of the deceased could have lifted them out of poverty, are kept by the institutions. Often, the next of kin may not be aware of his/her name being used during the completion of the bank account opening forms or during insurance policy subscriptions.

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