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Fair Wages Commission calls for Independent Emoluments Commission

BY: Caroline Boateng & Donald Ato Dapatem
 Dr Edward Kwapong — Chief Executive, FWSC
Dr Edward Kwapong — Chief Executive, FWSC

The Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) has advocated the setting up of an Independent Emoluments Commission to streamline salary administration in the country.

The FWSC said as detailed in the report of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), such an independent body would have the FWSC as its secretariat, serving the independent commissioners with the requisite advice, knowledge and information to determine all salaries in the country.

The Chief Executive of the FWSC, Dr Edward Kwapong, made the advocacy at a media sensitisation engagement on the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) and efforts made so far in the administration of salaries in Accra yesterday.

He said most often, when unions were up in arms because of their salaries or allowances, the media tended to ride on the wave of passion to side with the unions against the FWSC.

That, he explained, had led many people to wrongly believe that the commission was not working.

Dr Kwapong said the engagement was to clarify issues and share with the media progress made and the challenges the commission faced.

Dynamics

Touching on the SSPP and the dynamics of its implementation, he said public sector salaries were determined by standard structures, such as job analysis and evaluation.

For job evaluation, he said, the description of jobs and their grading were done with scores pegged to each job evaluated.

Dr Kwapong said the jobs were then graded, in accordance with the schemes of services of institutions, and compensations given to each.

He said compensable factors for jobs were pegged to four factors — the knowledge or skills of the job holder, his or her responsibility, working conditions and effort.

The next factor in pay administration, he said, was allowance, which had been categorised into four, with category one allowance consolidated into the basic salary, categories two and three harmonised and standardised, and category four monetised.

Challenges

On challenges, the chief executive said as the lead negotiator for the government, the role of the FWSC was to advise the government on the SSPP.

That advice, he said, could be rejected or accepted by the government based on its ability to pay.

The commission also had to engage with unions in the administration of the pay policy.

Dr Kwapong said what was bothersome was how some unions tried to “coin” allowances or benefits for themselves to be incorporated into the pay policy.

He attributed that to the general low level of salaries in the country.

Pay, performance

He said the FWSC, working closely with the government of Korea and learning from best practices, had developed a report on pay and productivity, which had been submitted to the Office of the Senior Presidential Advisor for onward incorporation in the ongoing public sector reform programme.

He said from the collaboration, the decision was to first link pay to performance, then subsequently to productivity.

That arrangement, Dr Kwapong said, was already being piloted in some institutions.

He said by next year, the full results of the pilot would be evident for it to be expanded.

“The fear, though, is that the culture of the public service does not encourage accountability and performance management the way it is done in the private sector, so it will require a lot of sensitisation,” he added.

Focus

The acting Director of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation and Head of Public Affairs at the FWSC, Mr Earl Ankrah, encouraged journalists to focus on the policy in their reportage.

He further urged them not to be carried away by the passion of labour unions and the public but stay true to the policy by understanding it thoroughly and using it as a basis in all stories to educate and inform.

Context

In the Fourth Republic, a broader public sector reform agenda from 2006 to 2011 gave birth to the effort to restore fairness in the public service pay adminstration system.

The SSPP was birthed in 2007, with a unitary pay structure known as the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS).

The FWSC was also birthed with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission Act 737 (Act 2007).

The plan at the inception was to review the policy after five years of implementation, and Dr Kwapong said some work had been completed on that, and that the sector minister would soon call for engagement with stakeholders.

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