A policy by the government, intended to “put more cash in the hands of public sector workers”, will begin this year with the implementation of a new pay reform scheme.
Under the scheme which will be implemented in three phases, fringe benefits and other allowances, otherwise provided directly for certain category of workers and include utilities, housing, car maintenance, househelp and security will be consolidated and the quantum paid in cash to the beneficiaries.
In that circumstance, the decision to acquire or pay for those services would be at the discretion of the individual.
The Minister of Public Sector Reforms, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, who disclosed this in an interview in Accra , said the move was intended to, among others, to offer public sector workers enhanced salaries and also make the decision to engage people for work in their houses or acquire some facilities discretionary.
The move was announced earlier in the 2006 budget by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning late last year which stated in part that “Progressive monetisation of non-cash benefits will be implemented in phases”.
Phase one will be the consolidation of all cash allowances, monetise and consolidate such benefits as fuel, house staff, driver and utilities (phone, electricity and water) while phase two will be to monetise and consolidate benefits such as vehicles and phase three would monetise and consolidate benefits such as housing.
The main impact will be the devolution of ownership or responsibilities from government officers, thus making the officers directly accountable and responsible for the use of resources.
Dr Nduom said currently negotiations led by the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment was on-going to fine tune the modalities for the implementation.
He said public sector workers also stood the chance of contributing bigger amounts to the pension scheme and provident fund, which are investments that will support the workers when they go on retirement.
Dr Nduom said the basic salary of most workers now did not qualify them for loan facilities from the banks. “With this new scheme, the basic salary of public sector workers would be big enough to attract the banks to come after them, because they would be sure of repayment within the stipulated time,” the Public Sector Reform Minister added.
He said the scheme would also ensure that the government controlled its expenditure at the end of every month, since the new scheme would check inefficiencies regarding the use of utilities, among others.
He noted that the move was not intended to target public sector workers in the higher income bracket only but also those in the lower income level.
Dr Nduom said the Cabinet had approved the new pay reform, adding that there had been series of consultations with all the sector ministries and the country's donor partners.
He predicted that there were some workers who would oppose the implementation of the new scheme.Dr Nduom, however, noted that the government was more than determined to implement the scheme because of the benefits that went with it and urged all public sector workers to support the implementation of the scheme.
Dr Nduom mentioned the preparation of a comprehensive work programme to cover a period of between three and five years.
He said the programme would be subjected to an annual review to enable it to reflect the economic and social conditions at the time.
That, he said, would cover three priority areas. Dr Nduom said the first would take into consideration service delivery improvement where the work environment of workers would be improved.
He mentioned the provision of some equipment including computers and refurbishing of offices to provide a friendly working environment for workers which would enhance productivity.
The second area, the minister said would consider improvement in records management.Dr Nduom said the problem of record management had created a lot of inefficiencies in the public sector and indicated that the new programme would ensure that all records were properly kept to allow for easy reference.
He said performance management in the public sector would also be given a greater impetus.Under this programme, Dr Nduom said managers would be rewarded where they performed exceptionally well and at the same time, sanctions would be applied if they failed to live up to expectation.
He said the recruitment of staff will also be based on qualification while those already in the system would be re-trained to bring them up to the standard to enhance their performance.
Dr Nduom said that as part of the pay reforms in the country, payment would be tied to performance as measures would be put in place to ensure that the right number of people were put on the payroll.
Dr Nduom mentioned the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), for instance and said it would be taken off the government's subvented list.