Gov’t soon to meet organized labour over unemployment, insurance benefits

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The Government of Ghana and its social partners would soon engage organized labour and key stakeholders in discussions on unemployment and insurance benefits for Ghanaians.

The discussions would also centre on the training and retraining of workers, the extension of moratorium in the payment of incomes and corporate taxes, and pragmnatism in labour administration and enforcement.

This was announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo at this year’s celebration of Workers Day at the Black Star Square in Accra on Sunday.

The move is part of wider efforts to address the effects of the massive job losses and labour market disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect the jobs and incomes of the Ghanaian.

This year’s May Day was marked under the theme: “Protecting Jobs and Incomes in the Era of COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond.”

The President noted that the labour market disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic had led to governments, including Ghana’s, to implement unprecedented measures to mitigate the effects on their economies.

He pointed out that at the outset of the pandemic, when public sector workers in other countries were either losing their jobs or getting reduced salaries, his government continued to pay the salaries of public sector workers without any reductions and ensured that none lost his or her job.

President Akufo-Addo who acknowledged that the country was difficult times, said the Government had however not thrown its hands in despair and was not looking for the easy way out.

“On the contrary, we are working hard to address the current challenges facing the economy, and those that relate to improving the quality of life for all Ghanaians. I will be the first to admit that conditions of service, in the wider public service, need improvement. However, these should be done within budgetary constraints to ensure that we do not put excessive pressure on our public finances,” he said.

On compensation for workers, the President said the government spent GH¢31.7 billion to pay for compensation of employees in term of wages and salaries, pensions, gratuities, and social security in 2021.

“This was paid out of a tax revenue of GH¢56.5 billion. Thus, payment for compensation for 700,000 public sector employees, alone, absorbed 56 percent of tax revenues in 2021.

“This ratio is well above the ECOWAS threshold of 35 percent and above the sub-Saharan Africa average of 43 percent,” he added.

The President pointed out that tax revenues had not been enough to meet commitments on compensation, interest payments, and statutory funds, and the government had had to resort to non-tax revenue and borrowing to be able to meet those obligations.

“This shows how rigid the budget is, and how fiscal space is non-existent or limited.

He said the Government had worked with the tripartite social partners in the past to deal with those issues, and “we will need your support, now more than ever, in our forward march.”

“I urge all of us to work hard to increase productivity so we can increase salary levels and provide the basis for paying a “Living Wage”,” he told the workers.

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