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Universities should aim at transforming economies

By gna
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Cape Coast, Nov. 22, GNA- President John Agyekum Kufuor on Saturday, asked the country's universities to be in the forefront to solve the riddle "of productivity and good pay which comes first".

"I submit that the universities should be in the front line for solving the riddle because they must be the crucibles for testing and refining ideas for transforming societies economies" he said.

President Kufuor made the call in an acceptance speech after being honoured by the University of Cape Coast (UCC) with an honorary doctorate degree in law at a special congregation held at the UCC, Cape Coast on Saturday.

President Kufuor is the first sitting President in the country, to be given such an award by the University, which had conferred similar honours on 24 eminent personalities, including non-Ghanaians of varying backgrounds and fields of endeavour.

A citation accompanying the award read by the Registrar of the UCC, Mr Kofi Ohene said, "President Kufuor, was being honoured in the light of his distinguished service to Ghana, the international community and to humanity.

"The UCC was proud to honour him as an eminent statesman, lawyer and peace maker", the Registrar said.

President Kufuor said if the submission was accepted then the recent unfortunate tendency of university lecturers threatening industrial action every now and then for more pay would stop.

He said the low and unrealistic remuneration was an old phenomenon that had been with Ghana since independence and had caused the stagnation of the economy. "We have been stuck with a per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of around 380 dollars for the past 30 years", he said.

President Kufuor said this had radically sapped the motivation of the workforce that was the cornerstone of productivity and yet without productivity any real increases in pay would be disastrous to the economy. He said this syndrome had lasted so long that it had assumed the status of a culture, but this was a bad culture that must be broken and eradicated from the political economy.

President Kufuor said in its place, the bad culture must be ushered the positive culture of productivity that enjoins the partnership for wealth creation to share fairly in the gains of production.

"But we all know that it is not easy to change culture. And so we are faced with a big riddle of productivity and good pay, which comes first. This is the riddle we all must contribute in solving", he said.

To the lecturers in the universities, President Kufuor said even as government cuts corners to find the resources to improve their salaries, they should all try to partner government and other stakeholders to find ways and means to move the economy out of the grove of poverty, adding " it is only this way to guarantee realistic and sustainable pay structure.

President Kufuor said throughout history, such groundbreaking ideas had always emerged from the hard disciplines, sacrifices and work in the citadels of learning, more often than not without immediate commercial returns.

" I am confident, that this challenge is not beyond the capability of our universities and government will always consider ideas coming from them seriously", he aded.

President Kufuor referred to the recent University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) salary negotiations, which he had to intervene and said "even though an agreement was reached on some increases, it did not meet the original demands of the lecturers not because government is averse to their getting better paid".

"Indeed in round terms, a demand for a 1,000 dollars monthly as the starting pay for a lecturer should not be unreasonable. The truth however, is that the lecturers are not alone in suffering low and unrealistic remuneration.

Those in the public sector, MP's Civil Servants, Judges, Ministers of State and even the President are all suffering this embarrassment of poor pay", he said.

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