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07.04.2006 General News

TUC Got It All Wrong -Minister

By Graphic
TUC Got It All Wrong -Minister

The Minister for Public Sector Reforms, Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, has dismissed allegations that public sector reforms in the country have failed.

He has also denied that the government has spent about $120 million on the reforms.

In an interview in reaction to comments by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to that effect, he said, “It is not true that public sector reforms in the country have failed. Although I am not satisfied with the past results, I cannot say they failed completely.”

At a forum for African regional executives of organised labour in Accra, the Deputy General Secretary of the TUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, made the accusation and described the reforms project as a doomed one that had only rewarded consultants with $120 million of taxpayers' money.

Dr Nduom made it clear that the present government had not spent $120 million on the reforms. He noted that the amount was largely spent by the previous government to carry out a number of studies into the problems within the sector and work on the recommendations to be adopted.

Dr Nduom said much was not spent on implementation because there was no money, adding that “this is what this government has now focused on”.

He recalled that the President, during the launch of the reform programme, mentioned what had been spent in the past before his administration took office and indicated that it was not right for anybody to impute that the government had spent that amount of money in recent times.

“The difference here is that one was the study and recommendations, and now it is time for implementation,” he added.

Dr Nduom said the implementation was being done transparently and gradually to allow the people to be able to judge the results for themselves.

He said the reforms were on track and had the full backing of the President and his Cabinet, public sector agencies and employees, adding that people were enthusiastic about them.

Dr Nduom said the whole idea was a sensitive one and the public needed not to use the reference from the past to colour what was currently going on because the better the sector, the better the government would run in the interest of the entire citizenry.

“This is too important to be trivialised by anybody,” the sector minister advised.

On the monetisation of the sector, he said, “The idea should not be misconstrued to mean that the government is going to put more money in the hands of senior public servants at the expense of those at the junior level.”

He said the concept was to transform the benefits being enjoyed by senior public servants, as stipulated in their conditions of service, into cash.

Dr Nduom made it clear that by their conditions of service, senior public servants were supposed to enjoy water and electricity and the services of house helps, among others.

“These are to be converted into cash for them to be able to pay those expenses themselves,” he explained. Dr Nduom said there would be a ceiling to what they would be given so that they would be careful the way they used the money, while the government also stood to gain from the new policy.

On the other hand, he said, although those below the senior category of workers did not enjoy any benefits, the Ministry of Manpower Development, Youth and Employment and the other stakeholders were currently negotiating what should be done for them.

He said it had been proposed that whenever there was an increase in salaries, the junior workers would receive more than the normal increment, “but as I said, this is being negotiated with all the relevant bodies to ensure that what is arrived at is acceptable to all”.

Dr Nduom said issues of salaries were very sensitive and, therefore, there was the need for all involved to be cautious about comments they made about the process.

“Nothing should be said or done to make people feel irresponsible because what is being done takes a lot of effort,” he added.