Government officials have blamed the high public sector wage bill as the major cause of ?the meat going down to the bone?.
?We are told that Ghana spends over 72 percent of its total revenues in paying public sector workers and that the single spine pay policy is the singular cause of all that has gone wrong with the country?s public finances,? Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of Trade Union Congress (TUC), said.
According to him, these acts and commentary by government officials may be intended to intimidate, humiliate and rally public disaffection against public service workers; saying ?the impression is being created that public sector pay is a windfall to undeserving public sector workers.
He said organised labour has its own version of the story of the single spine salary structure (SSSS) and the public sector wage bill in relation to national revenues and Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said figures available to them show clearly that even with clearance arrears from 2010 and 2011, the provisional outturn for 2012 in terms of public sector emoluments as a ratio of total revenue was 46.28 percent lower than the proportion recorded in 2008.
He said in terms of GDP, the public wage bill was 9.8 percent of GDP in 2012, adding that when oil revenues are excluded, the public sector wage consumed 55.31 percent of revenues.
?When the arithmetic is done, taking into consideration only tax revenues, public sector wage consumed 57.94 percent of total tax revenues in 2012.
?These are significant proportions by any measure, but they fall short of the figures government and its officials are touting to the public. It leads us to ask the obvious question: why is government, custodian of official statistics in Ghana, putting figures it knows are not correct into the public domain?? he asked.
He stated that a large proportion of the public sector wage bill has been appropriated to the few politicians classified under Article 71 of the constitution, and this privileged few are not part of the SSSS.
According to Mr. Asamoah, they (politicians) award themselves with gargantuan salaries, including their ex-gratia, and all these have fed into the wage bill.
He said the SSSS therefore cannot be the sole reason for the rising wage bill, saying: ?We have, on countless occasions, requested government to disaggregate the public sector pay envelope for informed analysis of who takes what as we define a clearer way forward. We urged government to respond to that call in the interests of transparency and accountability.
?We are also aware of the gross mismanagement that has characterised the public sector compensation system in recent times, a situation that we attribute to the failure of politicians to allow technocrats to administer the pay system.?
He therefore cited the Auditor General?s report for 2011, which catalogued a range of salary-related malpractices across all government ministries and agencies and the recent revelations from Savanna Accelerated Development Agencies (SADA) and Ghana Youth Entrepreneurial and Enterprise Development Agenda (GYEEDA) as sufficient reminders of the management challenges with the public purse.
He advised government to check and concentrate its efforts on the large-scale mismanagement, including mismanagement in the public payroll system as well as pure corruption? — both of which have engulfed the country and led to leakages on the revenue side and waste on the expenditure.
By Benson AFFUL