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04.12.2019 Business & Finance

Establish Labour Bank For Descent Housing, Soft Loans For Workers – TUC

Dr Anthony Yaw Baah Dr Anthony Yaw Baah
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The Trade Union Congress (TUC) has proposed the establishment of a Labour Bank that will help support Ghanaian workers with the acquisition of decent housing and soft loans among other welfare issues.

Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, Secretary-General of TUC, who made the appeal, said his outfit was still undertaking feasibility studies and had already dispatched two persons to Japan to understudy how that country implemented its Labour Bank model.

He was speaking at a forum jointly organised by the TUC, GEA and AGI, to discuss the 2020 Budget Statement and Economic Policy Statement and recommend a bipartite position as well as see how best they could approach government to factor their concerns into the budget implementation.

The partners are expected to meet the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, early next year at the Social Partnership Council platform to make known their concerns.

He said the TUC would have further engagements with the Japanese Mission, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and Finance Ministry, as well as the Ghana Employers Association (GEA) and the Association of Ghana Industry (AGI) towards the operation of the bank.

Currently, there is a labour bank in Ghana providing loans and other welfare services for personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces.

Mary Karimu, Deputy Director of Labour Research and Policy Institute of the TUC, while making a presentation on TUC's observations on the Budget Statement, commended government for the proposal to establish a National Development Bank and the decision not to roll out new taxes.

The TUC said the increase in fuel prices and utility tariffs had eroded the economic gains registered by government, hence the inability of majority of Ghanaians to experience any impact on their lives.

The union also expressed disquiet over the high lending rate which was stifling businesses and urged government to find innovative ways to reduce it to the barest minimum.

It cited, an instance, where government directed the Consolidated Banks to charge only 11.6 per cent interest rate on loans, insisting that it was possible to bring down the interest rate from the current figure of 25 per cent to a single digit like what pertains in Cote d'Ivoire and Burkina Faso.

The TUC expressed concerns about the over-liberalized trade policy allowing dumping of cheap foreign products on the local markets and thus, called for controlled measures to protect the local industries,

More so, the union said the 50 per cent reduction of the benchmark values had not resulted in reduction of prices for goods and services, but rather benefited importers at the detriment of the general populace.

It urged government to re-examine the tax exemption regime for multinational companies operating in the country and requested that more stakeholder consultation is needed for the new Tax Exemption Policy Draft Document to make it more holistic and relevant.

The TUC disagreed with government's decision to export specialized nurses to Barbados and other foreign countries and asked whether the nation had surplus nurses that warranted the export.

---Daily Guide