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19.02.2009 General News

TUC kicks against use of macro economics… to determine living standard

By George Kyei Frimpong - Ghanaian Chronicle

The Ghana Trades Union Congress has cautioned the government to refrain from using macroeconomic performance as an indicator of social development, instead it should measure its performance with improvement in living standards of the people.

According to the Union, over 7million Ghanaians still live in poverty after two and half decades of economic growth.

According to the GTUC, the greatest challenge facing the managers of the economy was how to translate the successes in the macroeconomic management into social progress on a sustainable basis.

These were contained in the Union's proposal for the 2009 Budget and Economic policies signed by the Secretary General of GTUC, Mr. Kofi Asamoah and submitted to the Minister of Finance, yesterday.

The proposal headlined -'Sustaining Economic Growth for Social Development' touched on issues on health, housing, water, sanitation, employment and Agriculture among other things.

The Union observed that in spite of successes chalked since 2000, reports indicate that the fiscal position of the country has deteriorated, adding that the balance of payment deficit has reached unsustainable levels while the value of the cedi against the major international currencies has started its downward trend.

It noted that the global economic recession was likely to impact negatively on the Ghanaian economy this year as the major development partners were experiencing severe recession.

It continued that after tasking the Labour Research and Policy Institute at the Ghana Labour College to evaluate the National Youth and Employment Programme (NYEP), it was revealed that the workers were paid below the national minimum wage, while some received their salaries irregularly.

The investigation also revealed that the programme which was supposed to create half a million jobs by the end of 2009, ended up employing only 108,000 as at the end of 2007, meanwhile, recruitment of new workers under NYEP had been suspended due to lack of funds They therefore, appealed to government to channel resources to the NYEP in order to expand it to make it a source of employment for the youth.

The Union urged the government to monitor the implementation of the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) to check possible abuses that could defeat their objectives.

“Poor access to water and sanitation has been described as the silent crisis,” it remarked.

It stressed that Ghana was one of the few countries in the world that still records the guinea worm disease.

The Union said despite spending over GH¢17.3million on sanitation, the situation in Ghana did not reflect the huge government expenditure.

“It is estimated that over 11million Ghanaians still lack access to safe water and 14million do not have access to adequate sanitation,” it emphasized.

Touching on housing problems, the Union advised the government to take steps to develop the mortgage market and as well provide adequate resources for the State Housing Company (SHC) to provide affordable houses for Ghanaians in all parts of Ghana.

On public sector reforms, they indicated that instead of the former government issuing a White Paper which would have spelt out the 25-level grading structure and a corresponding single spine salary structure for the public sector; it rather truncated the process and announced that single spine pay structure was in operation.

They reiterated that government must complete the reform process.

Regarding the Pension reforms, the union said the administrative procedures should be simplified to ensure that Pensioners received their pensions regularly and on time without any hindrance, urging the government to provide the necessary support for the Pension Reform Implementation Committee, for a smooth implementation of the new Pension law (Act 766).

The Union concluded by affirming their commitment to assist in the struggle towards the social and economic development for the people of Ghana.