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11.02.2009 Feature Article

End-of-Service Benefits and All

By GNA

A Ghanaian axiom teaches that those

who do not have axes must utilise opportunities offered by those who

have them by going along with them into the forest to pick pieces of

firewood for lighting their hearths.
Today, public debate is about payments of End-of-Service

Benefits (ESBs) to the big shots in government.
This Writer, therefore, takes liberties to put in a plea for public

sector workers, who have been complaining silently about a

governmental decree that suspended their (ESBs) in the dizzy days of

the December 1981 revolution up to today.
Even though ESBs were said to have been restored in principle

through the contributory Provident Funds in recent times, it begs the

question of equity and fairness, given the low salary levels in the

country's public sector and the many years of deficit for those who

have been in public service since the early 1980s.
Once upon a time in 1990 the then Finance Minister Dr Kwesi

Botchwey announced the indefinite suspension of all ESBs for

Departments and Agencies with Collective Bargaining Agreements

(CBAs) and therefore subsisted on the State purse, stating the inability

of the State to bear such responsibilities.
At the time, those who had served the minimum number of

years for qualification to earn the ESBs as stipulated in their CBAs,

were paid those benefits.
In some instances workers who were just one day short of

the minimum qualification were denied those benefits.

Those who were paid the (ESBs) for the period that they had

qualified but continued in service for many more years went home on

retirement without any ESBs. Some of them are still in service and

would go home virtually empty handed if the decree should continue

in force.
Those who had missed even the partial ESBs as a result of

non-qualification by those CBAs would be serving more than 30 years

at the time they would be due to retire but would have nothing to show

as ESBs.
Ironically, however, those who then and now have been in

government continued to enjoy the ESBs even though these might be

under different descriptions.
If, therefore, the argument for the indefinite suspension of ESBs in

the Public Service as charged on the public purse, was the financial

burden entailed, that argument could no longer hold in the face of

recent developments.
Our country's motto is “Freedom and Justice” with emphasis on

“Justice”, a case of what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the

gander.
It is agreed that each level of public service must be rewarded

proportionately but not a complete denial to some and everything for

others, it smacks of discrimination and a breach of the 1992

Constitution.
For example Legislators are entitled to ESBs for as many times that

they entered Parliament and for the Presidents for a minimum of four

years or maximum of eight years compared with other public servants,

who serve many more years but would go home empty handed.

One may ask why ESBs? Indeed to this Writer's understanding,

ESBs were meant to achieve various ends. Firstly, but not in order of

importance, is to assure the beneficiaries of a secure future after

rendering many years of public service.
The package is also meant to ensure loyalty, sacrifice and

commitment while in service; giving the best of oneself to the nation.

ESBs also constitute one of the effective ways to tackling pervasive

malfeasance in the Public Service.
A public servant who faces a bleak future while in service would

when he or she gets the chance succumb to corruption in order to

feather his or her nest against a rainy day. It is a natural survival instinct.

To succeed in tackling corrupt practices in public service, the

Government would do well by expunging the decree that suspended the

ESBs and take on the responsibility for paying those benefits

irrespective of the capacity in which one serves in public service.

The reason why contributory Provident Fund cannot replace

the ESB, in the form it was prior to 1990 is that, like the contributory

Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) pension, what

would accrue as benefits to contributors would be woefully adequate

given the beggarly wage and salary regime in the country.

Moreover attractive ESBs and by extension salaries

constitute potential approaches to addressing the poverty menace in the

country.
This is because the fact remains that public sector workers

have continued to take on the responsibilities of members of the

extended family in terms of education, welfare and many other things

that impinge on the quality of life in the society.

The poverty levels in the country are arguably the reflection

of poor reward systems in the public sector making it increasingly

difficult to bear one another's burden.
A case for improved public sector reward systems helping

to solve problems of poverty had been made in the early post

independence period when uncles and aunties took on their nephews

and nieces and educated them as far as their abilities could take them

and also set some of them up in businesses.
It is accepted that better reward systems in the public sector

are attendant on higher productivity but it is also arguable that enhanced

reward systems in the sector would be motivation towards higher

productivity.
There is also the danger of de-motivation towards higher

productivity in the public sector when the oft proclaimed resilience and

stable growth of the economy rather than reflect in better rewards

instead tended to echo the inability of the economy to offer the

expected better rewards.
A GNA Feature by Wilhelm Gaitu

GNA
GNA, © 2009

The author has 219 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: GNA

Disclaimer: "The views/contents expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author(s) and do not neccessarily reflect those of Modern Ghana. Modern Ghana will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article."

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