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31.03.2005 General News

Govt's doors are still open to organised labour

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Accra, March 31,GNA - Mr Dan Botwe, Minister of Information, on Thursday said government was ever ready to accommodate the views of organised labour on how to mitigate the effects of last month's petroleum price hike.

"Government consulted organised labour before the announcement of the oil price, has met (organised labour) after the announcement and will continue to do so," Mr Botwe said at a press conference in Accra in reaction to a call on government by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to slash a number of taxes on the petroleum prices, including the Social Impact Mitigating Levy.

The Minister said government saw those taxes as instruments to mitigate the effects of the price hike on the poor and the vulnerable.

"It is still important to kept those taxes so that we can use them to cushion the poor."

Mr Botwe said he did not suspect any foul play or puppet pulling in the organised labour's stand on the petroleum price issue.

A 50 per cent fuel price increase last month has triggered protests from an umbrella group called Committee for Joint Action, which has held a series of demonstrations demanding a reduction in the price.

Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said government issued about 2.1 trillion cedis in the purchase of crude oil last year and asked, "if we should continue to spend that much or use the money in other sectors".

On how Ghana could get herself put, in the wake of the "oil trap", Prof. Mike Ocquaye, Minister of Energy, said the GNPC was being encouraged to hasten its pace in the search for oil.

Mr Kofi Adda, Minister of Manpower Development, Youth and Employment, said the question of a living wage was yet to be solved. He said the Tripartite Committee had formed a sub-committee to look at the issue before a proper debate could ensue.

The Minister said another sub-committee had been formed to look into "fleet management" and other issues related to the mass transportation to help in the proper deployment of buses.

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