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24.02.2009 General News

'Extend ex gratia to us' - civil servants

The Civil Servants Association (CSA) has urged the government to extend the payment of end-of-service benefit (ESB) or ex gratia to civil servants.

The acting Executive Secretary of the CSA, James Ekow Amissah, said it was wrong for civil servants, who were the machinery of government, to go home with only their social security pension, whereas Members of Parliament (MPs) and managing directors who served for short periods took home 'huge' ESBs.

He was speaking with the Daily Graphic on the expectations of civil servants in the budget statement to be presented by the Minister of Finance to Parliament soon.

The issue of ex gratia has generated controversy since the recommendations of ex gratia for the former President, former Vice-President, MPs and other public officials was made public last month.

A section of Ghanaians, including the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a pressure group, raised issues with the quantum of the committee's recommendations for ex gratia, describing them as too extravagant.

Consequently, President John Evans Atta Mills announced his intention to constitute a committee to• review the recommendations of the Chinery-Hesse Committee which made those recommendations.

According to Mr Amissah the SSNIT pension is so meagre that it cannot cater for workers when they go on retirement.

Besides, civil servants retired on reduced salaries, whereas other sections of public servants retired on their salaries.

"There is so much pressure on you when you go on retirement. We (civil servants) need ESB because the SSNIT pension cannot take care of us on retirement," he stressed.

He called for equity in the salaries of civil servants, including MPs and Ministers of State, noting that the salaries of civil servants were so meagre that "average civil servants cannot own houses or vehicles, while they are also not able to access loans from banks because of their small salaries".

Mr Amissah asked the government to focus on building the capacity of civil servants by organising training programmes for them.

He said the government should provide them with the needed resources to be able to perform their duties well.

He reminded the government that it was civil servants, made up of technocrats, who implemented its policies and, therefore, they deserved to also enjoy what was due government officials.

He said civil servants had always sacrificed for the country irrespective of the government in power, but their services had not been recognised.

He said the payment of meagre salaries to civil servants "is killing their morale" and asked the government "to pay good salaries and in turn get better productivity".

He also charged the government to support civil servants, asking, "For how long will civil servants continue to sacrifice?"

"The government should allocate more resources to civil servants, while it continues with the public sector reforms," Mr Amissah demanded.