The Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has kicked against the government’s proposal to privatise its payroll so that it can manage the system more efficiently to deal with the problem of ghost names.
Rather than resorting to the private sector for solution, the TUC said the government should address the incompetence of the Controller and Accountant General’s Department in handling payroll administration.
“In our view, there is a problem with payroll administration. Part of the reason is that the Controller and Accountant General has no competence or has limited competence in pay roll administration,” the Director of Labour Research and Policy Institute of the TUC, Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, said at a forum for the review of the 2019 budget.
He was speaking on the implications of the 2019 budget statement and economic policy of the government strategies for labour in 2019 in Accra at the forum that was jointly organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, a German civil society organisation and the TUC.
He said one solution was to have a unit at the Ministry of Finance to take charge of payroll administration, while the Controller focused on the core issues, including paying government debts.
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Dr Otoo said the idea that every problem in the public sector could be solved only by privatising, needed to be looked at again, pointing out that the private sector had a profit motive and, “we do not think that some of these issues should be subjected to profit maximisation.”
He contended that the collapse of some banks, owned by the private sector, pointed to the fact that the sector did not have the antidote to the country’s payroll challenges.
According to the budget statement, the government projects to raise GH¢45.3 billion as revenue, spend GH¢19.4 billion, representing about 26.5 per cent of total expenditure on wages and salaries and GH¢18.7 billion on debt servicing.
Dr Otoo observed that while the wage bill appeared huge, wage disparity was worrying and that made pension iniquity inevitable.
He said there was the need to address the problem, particularly for those at the bottom.
He also expressed worry about the lack of transparency in the administration of pension funds and the situation where ranks below General in the Ghana Armed Forces were retiring on their salaries.
Dr Otoo applauded the Nation Builders Corps programme as one that would create jobs for many unemployed young people, some of whom, he said, had stayed home for more than three years, after completing school.
On the government’s plan to bring down the housing deficit estimated to be over 1.7 million units, Dr Otoo said the government needed to take cognisance of the salary levels of workers and make housing truly affordable.
The Deputy TUC Secretary-General, Mr Joshua Ansah, for his part, observed that while the economy was growing, it was not creating jobs.
He said the TUC was happy that some of its proposals to the government, including a review of the luxury vehicle tax, had been considered.
The Director, Economic Research and Forecasting Division (ERFD) of the Ministry of Finance, Dr Alhassan Iddrisu, who presented highlights of the 2019 budget, said the government was enacting the Fiscal Responsibility Law that would ensure that at all times, the country’s deficit did not go beyond five per cent.