The Trades Union Congress (TUC) Thursday lauded the Government’s initiative to create the Nation Builders Corps (NBC) to address unemployment, but urged it to urgently address unfair trade policies in favour of Ghanaian farmers and manufacturers.
It said: “We need a very radical review of our Trade Policy to protect our manufacturers and farmers. Ghana also needs to work with other countries in the ECOWAS region to secure the sub-regional market for our private sector.”
In a statement, copied to the GNA, the TUC said the NBC, which was expected to reverse the growing trend of graduate unemployment by employing 100,000 graduates across the country, in 2018, was obviously the most ambitious jobs programme designed to address the critical challenge of unemployment.
The NBC, it said, was a bold initiative because the jobs to be provided would significantly improve public service delivery and also signal to young people that education was rewarding.
“The benefits will far exceed the cost of the programme,” the Union said in a statement it described as “a preliminary statement on the assessment of the 2018 Budget Statement and Economic Policy, presented to Parliament, on Wednesday.
Dr Yaw Baah, the Secretary-General, signed the statement.
The TUC, however, asked the Government to give details of the programme regarding how many years the employment will last and whether or not the duration will be one year, like the National Service Scheme.
These, it said, had to be addressed prior to the rollout of the programme in 2018.
Throwing more light on the Trade Policy, the Union said the review must cover all the impediments to the growth of Ghanaian private sector to facilitate their profitability to enable it to absorb these graduates when and where necessary.
“The 100,000 graduates that will be employed in 2018 will at some point have to transit into the mainstream labour market after they have acquired further skills and experience so that others can also benefit from the programme,” the TUC said.
“Strengthening the domestic private sector to absorb the beneficiaries of the Nation Builders Corps Programme will ease that transition.”
The Labour Union also said it had expected the Budget to announce measures by the Government to reduce the cost of borrowing.
The Ghanaian private sector, it said, had suffered a lot of unfairness, especially in the areas of trade, high cost of production and access to credit, as compared to their counterparts trading partners in countries such as China, Turkey, Brazil and South Africa.
“The private sector needs the support of the State, at least for a specified period, to enable local entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and to create decent jobs for Ghanaians,” it stated.
While commending the initiatives set out in the budget to create an enabling environment for private sector development such as the proposed reduction in energy tariffs, they called for an urgent review of Ghana’s trade policies as they remained unfair to local manufacturers and farmers, especially livestock farmers.
It assured the Government that the TUC and its affiliates operating in all the sectors of the Ghanaian economy were ready to support policies that would create jobs for Ghanaians and ensure prosperity for every Ghanaian, regardless of their economic and social status or their location – rural or urban.
“As has been the practice for so many years, the TUC submitted some proposals to government for the 2018 Budget and Economic Policy,” it said.
“Employment creation and related issues, including the need to keep industrial peace, were at the heart of the proposals.
“In our submission, we reiterated a point made in our earlier proposals and other submissions that the greatest challenge facing our country today is the lack of decent jobs for young people.”