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03.06.2006 Business & Finance

Workers Salaries Witheld 18 Months

By GNA

The scene at the National Pre-Mix Fuel Secretariat (NPMFS) near Independent Square in Accra was a pathetic sight when The Sun visited there about a week ago in the course of duty. About 28 innocent workers of the secretariat are on the verge of hitting 18 months without salaries.

Even though the local parlance says: “Koto nko we ne mako emma aponkyerene nte ho nfifire.” To writ, one cannot suffer for an offence committed by another person, the workers since the dissolution of the National Pre-Mix Fuel Committee in October 2004, as a result of countless scandals are yet to receive their monthly salaries.

“We are made to suffer for the 'sins' of some big men who are still living big and enjoying their booty,”

Dejected looking workers who did not want to be mentioned told The Sun. Due to the scandalous activities that rocked the pre-mix fuel lifting, in October 2004, the Ministry of Energy dissolved the National Pre-Mix Committee. However no provision was made for the salaries of the innocent workers at the secretariat who were duly employed during the establishment of the outfit. The paper gathered that after months of outstanding salaries and transport allowances had been withheld, the workers decided to forward their grievances to the government. They were however, asked to furnish the Ministry of energy with their social security and national insurance trust (SSNIT) contributions details and their appointment letters.

“After collecting all the necessary documents for verification with the assurance that we were going to be paid, we were later told to see the Minister of Fisheries,” a spokesman for the aggrieved workers who wanted to remain anonymity told The Sun.

When The Sun contacted Mr. Daniel Christian Dugan, Deputy Minister of Fisheries who was handling the issue, he said that the ministry was doing all that it can to raise funds for the payment of the workers.

He said currently the resources available to the ministry could only pay seven months salaries.

According to the minister, the ministry has assigned auditors to do reconciliation with Oil Marketing Companies (OMC) that were lifting pre-mix fuel to ensure that all the outstanding dues that were supposed to be paid to the secretariat are paid.

He noted that the NPMFS was run from the dues that OMC'S pay for the lifting of the pre-mix fuel.

However, as a result of the dissolution of the national pre-mix committee such dues were no longer operational for the secretariat. According to the minister, parts of the delays of the payment have to do with the approval of the mandate to the Ministry of Fisheries to handle the issue by the cabinet.

Mr. Dugan said after the reconciliation audit any amount that would be realized would be used to pay the outstanding salaries for the workers.

“We are much aware of the predicaments of these workers and we are doing all that we can to ensure that their salaries are settled,” Dugan told The Sun. According to insiders the only way to curtail the current situation was t o redirect the OMC to start lifting the pre-mix from the secretariat since the current practice was not much better than the previous practice. The paper gathered that the situation has affected most of the workers' children education since they could not raise funds to pay their wards school fees.

Some of the affected workers are field monitors, drivers, administrators and other secretarial staffs.

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