Economy has improved, minimum wage can buy six bags of cement – Baah-Wiredu
The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, has said that although Ghana's economy has not reached the best level yet, the facts on the ground suggest that living conditions are not deteriorating.
He also said the current minimum wage can buy more bags of cement than the minimum wage in the year 2000.
He said in spite of the fact that the prices of goods and services were going up, a situation which he said was not peculiar to Ghana the income levels of Ghanaians were also moving up to balance the situation.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic in Accra, the Finance Minister said the current minimum wage of GH¢2.25 could purchase more items on the market, compared to the number of items one could purchase when the figure stood at 42Gp by the end of 2000.
He said information provided by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) indicated that when the minimum wage was 42Gp per day in 2000, one kilogramme of bread sold at 44Gp, adding that a worker could not buy a kilogramme of bread with a day's wage at that time.
"Currently, the minimum wage is GH¢2.25 and one kilogramme of bread is GH¢l so a worker can buy two kilo¬grammes of bread and get a 25Gp change in addition," he explained.
Giving additional examples to support his assertion, the minister pointed out that with the GH¢2.25 wage per day, the least paid worker was expected to receive GH¢67.50 per month, an amount which, he stated, could currently be used to purchase six bags of cement, even if it was calculated at GH¢l0 per bag, leaving some change for the buyer.
"In 2000, when the minimum wage was 42Gp, the least paid worker received GH¢ 12.60 per month, which could purchase four bags of cement at GH¢3.50 per bag," he stated.
Last month, the National Tripartite Com¬mittee announced a new minimum wage of GH¢2.25 per day, an increase of 18.42 per cent over last year's minimum wage of GH¢1.90. The minimum wage is tax exempt.
In a communiqué issued after its meeting in Accra, the committee said the effective date for the implementation of the new wage was March 1, 2008.
The communiqué was signed on behalf of the government by the Minister of Manpower, Youth and Employment, Nana Akomea, the Executive Director of the Ghana Employers Association, Mrs Rose Karikari Anang, and the acting Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah.
Mr Baah-Wiredu said what Ghanaians could do to better their lot was to continue to work hard to enable the economy to boom so that "we can all enjoy as a people".
He also took the opportunity to advise all employers, especially those in the informal sector, to pay their workers based on the law¬ful minimum wage.