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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."
Reproduction is authorised provided the author's permission is granted.