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File Photo

Benefits, drawbacks of extending civil servants' retirements

AMID debate about whether adept civil servants should be allowed to remain in their posts beyond the conventional retirement age, the Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) Commissioner-General Dr Amisshaddai Owusu-Amoah has emerged as a case in point.


In August 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo granted him an extension to remain head of the GRA, which was met with both negative and positive reactions.

It is pertinent to recognise the indispensable value of experience and expertise in the process of transforming government institutions for the better.

Therefore, in certain cases, it may be prudent to retain competent and experienced workers beyond their retirement age in order to achieve this result.

Moreover, Article 199(4) of the 1992 Constitution, amended in 1996, allows public officers who reach the age of 60 to be engaged for a limited period of not more than two years at a time, but not exceeding a total of five years.

To part ways with capable and innovative individuals who have been instrumental in driving organisations towards greater success merely due to their age would be a great injustice to Ghana.

The achievements of Dr Owusu-Amoah at the GRA serve as an example of the advantages of retaining experienced civil servants.

Under his leadership, the GRA has made considerable progress in improving tax administration in Ghana.

He introduced online filing and payment of taxes, which has reduced congestion in GRA offices and made it easier for taxpayers to complete the process.

He has also spearheaded the migration of manual auction activities to an electronic platform and e-VAT, which allows the GRA to track transactions real-time or near real-time to avert revenue losses.

Dr Owusu-Amoah has also brought about a cashless initiative that has eliminated many of the negative aspects of the system, such as long queues, time-wasting, returned cheques, and fake notes.

To retire him simply because he has reached the age of 60 would be a misstep for Ghana.

Other public institutions should take a cue from the GRA and consider retaining competent civil servants beyond their retirement ages.

Of course, there are valid worries about the potential ill-effects of retaining civil servants beyond their retirement age, such as limiting opportunities for young graduates and contributing to the aging workforce.

Nevertheless, these concerns can be addressed by establishing policies that strike a balance between the retention of competent civil servants and the recruitment of young graduates.

For instance, public institutions can introduce mentorship programmes that pair experienced civil servants with young graduates to ensure knowledge transfer and succession planning.

Indeed, over the last three years, with Dr Owusu-Amoah at the helm of affairs, the GRA has surpassed its revenue targets, generating an impressive GH¢178.16 billion between 2020 and 2022, including revised targets of GH¢42.7 billion, GH¢57.02 billion and GH¢71.94 billion for 2020, 2021 and 2022 respectively a staggering GH¢6.5 billion, or 3.79 per cent in excess.

Meeting domestic revenue targets over the last three years has been a life saver for the government and has ensured that the system is not kept at bay but rather remains on the trajectory for massive development in the years to come.

Competence is important for nation building and good brains must be celebrated and their knowledge harnessed for the collective good of the nation once they have the strength.

Kester Aburam Korankye.

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