June 03, 2023

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Fix The Economy – Organised Labour Demands Of Govt

Organised Labour has asked the government to pursue bold and strong policies to transform the economy.

It said the electorate gave the government the mandate to rule the country because they trusted in its ability to transform the economy.

The Deputy General Secretary of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Ms Gifty Apanbil, made the call while contributing to a discussion at a forum of labour unions on the economy and contributions to the Tier Two Pension Scheme in Accra on Thursday.

The passion with which she spoke attracted cheers, comments and murmurings of consent from the 300 workers present.

They had gathered to listen to the government on the management of the economy, as well as the regulators of their pension scheme, the National Pensions Regulatory Authority (NPRA), on the status of their contributions.

The forum was organised by the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), with the support of the Friedrich Egbert Stiftung (FES).

Her comments were in response to an address by the Deputy Minister of Finance, Mrs Abena Osei Asare, at the forum.

Strong direction

In her contribution, Mrs Apanbil demanded that the government should provide equipment for the removal of stones from rice to rice farmers; sponsor research into crops to make available improved varieties to boost local yields.

She gave the example of tomatoes and asked the government to stop its importation from neighbouring countries and rather ensure its increased production locally, as well as other farm produce.

She said Nigeria, at a point in time, had banned the importation of polished rice and the population consumed home-grown rice, and wondered why the Ghanaian government could not initiate such measures to promote local food production.

“We deserve to live as human beings and we chose you, Don’t shift the blame to us, we are looking up to you! We need strong directions and all of us will follow,” Ms Apanbil said.

Other contributors

Other contributors such as the National Chairman of the Maritime and Dockworkers Union (MDU), Alhaji Abdul Rahman Baidoo, also charged the minister to look at the taxation of overtime allowance.

He said overtime work was done under compulsion. It was, therefore, unfair for the allowance earned to be taxed, he contended.

For the General Secretary of the MDU, Mr Owusu Koranteng, all the contributions made by the workers pointed to a “common sense” approach in managing the economy, as the resort to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was not giving the country the needed relief.

The General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU), Mr Solomon Kotei, in his comments, reminded the minister that they came to power on a major campaign promise to reduce utility tariffs, yet that had not been fulfilled.

He indicated that “killing utility tariffs’’ always became an obstacle during negotiations for salary adjustments.

Mr Kotei said the funds of enterprises were being swallowed up by utility bills and that had become a big hindrance to negotiations for better salaries for workers.

Bright future

Prior to the contributions by the workers, the deputy minister had talked about bright economic prospects.

“Ghana’s economy is said to rebound much strongly this year following the implementation of prudent economic policies, improved fiscal discipline and sound monetary and financial policies,” she told the gathering of workers.

Achieving the objectives of the programme is expected to have far-reaching implications for the economy, including the welfare of Ghanaian workers,” she added.

The Secretary General of the TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, who welcomed participants, said as leaders, they were keen that workers received the right information on the economy and their well being, hence the forum to update members.

He asked the government to work on tax thresholds for minimum wage earners and broaden the tax net to include informal workers.

The Director of FES, Mr Fritz Kopsieker, in his remarks, reminded all that there had to be a real net increase in job openings and also in decent jobs.

The chairperson for the forum was the President of GNAT, Ms Philippa Larson.


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