Exempt pension funds from Debt Exchange Programme – TUC insists

Secretary General Of Tuc Dr Anthony Yaw Baah
Secretary General Of Tuc Dr Anthony Yaw Baah

The Trade Union Congress (TUC), has reiterated its intention to advice itself if government fails to announce within a week the exemption of pension funds from the Debt Exchange programme.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, December 12, 2022, Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary General, Trade Union Congress, said government should publicly announce that all pension funds, including Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT), were exempted from the Debt Exchange Programme.

He said the programme will negatively affect pension funds of the congress and its affiliate members and, consequently, their retirement income security.

“If government refuses to accede to our demand to exempt pension funds from the Debt Exchange Programme after the one-week ultimatum, all workers should be ready to participate fully in any industrial action to protect our pension funds.

“Workers will no longer bear the consequences of any IMF-inspired programmes, government is responsible for all the consequences of its decisions, including the decision to seek IMF bailout,” he added.

He bemoaned government’s lack of prior engagement with Labour given that substantial portion of workers’ pension was invested in government bonds.

“We have taken special note of the statement by the Minister of Finance that the Debt Exchange Programme is voluntary. We promised our members that we will scrupulously analyse the propriety or otherwise of the participation of our pension funds in the Debt Exchange Programme,” he added.

Dr Baah said the various IMF-inspired measures given by the Government to deal with the economic and financial crisis had some inappropriate solutions.

Government announced increment in taxes from January 2023, of which Value Added Tax (VAT) rate will go up by 2.5 per cent, the maximum personal income tax margin will be raised from 30 to 35 per cent and the E-Levy threshold will be removed.

These taxes will obviously hurt poor people and workers on fixed and low incomes because, as usual, businesses will pass on their share of the additional tax burden onto consumers, he said.

He opposed these tax measures and challenged government to use other measures to mobilize revenue, including plugging the leakages in the tax system, improving efficiency in tax collection, and dealing decisively with the serial infractions in Auditor-General’s reports.

He advised that a substantial reduction of ministries and ministerial portfolios would help save more revenue for the Government.

“The employment freeze in the public sector will be adding to the pain of Ghanaians, especially young graduates struggling to secure employment. What is the point of free SHS if graduates cannot secure jobs?,” he said.

He said the value of the Cost-Of-Living-Allowance (COLA) granted in July 2022 had been completely wiped out, workers on the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) are receiving the lowest salaries in the public sector.

A substantial increase in salaries for workers, especially those on the Single Spine Salary Structure who are providing important public services such as health, education, security, and other public services for the country must be done.

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