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Govt, Graphic partnership to produce paper laudable - ICU

BY: Emmanuel Bonney
 Morgan Ayiwine — ICU General Secretary
Morgan Ayiwine — ICU General Secretary

The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) has described the government's proposed partnership with the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL) to produce paper locally for printing as laudable.

It said the move would not only benefit the nation in its foreign exchange appropriation in the importation of paper for printing but also support the GCGL to break even and also create employment opportunities for the youth.

“While supporting the laudable initiative, we hope the government will walk the talk to enable the paper and print media count their blessings once again to further contribute their quota to the socio-economic advancement of our country,” the ICU said in reaction to the 2023 Budget Statement.

Employment freeze

In a statement signed by its General Secretary, Morgan Ayawine, the union said although the bane of the country was the prevailing high rate of unemployment, the government had opted to walk the path of a freeze on employment, a measure it described as most unfortunate.

According to the union, it was trite knowledge that the resultant unemployment arising out of such a policy would have a negative effect on the economy and, therefore, found it strange that such a proposition would find space in the 2023 budget.

“It is needless to emphasise that the government should not have even considered it, as it is a recipe to derail the fight against unemployment, which has risen to an all-time high level.

“The ramifications of unemployment on the economy are wide and varied and potent invitation of social vices, especially among the youth.

“We suggest that, in the best interest of the national economy and for the benefit of the unemployed, especially young graduates who have been churned out from the various tertiary educational institutions, the government take a second look at the freeze to alleviate the plight of unemployed graduates,” the statement said.

Taxes

On the Value Added Tax (VAT), the ICU said the 2.5 per cent increase, as contained in the budget, would bring more economic hardships to the people.

It, therefore, entreated the government to rather reduce or abolish some of the nuisance taxes to ameliorate the suffering of the citizens.

“The reduction of the levy on electronic transactions by 0.5 per cent is welcomed, but we think the removal of the threshold will not inure to the benefit of the ordinary man. We, therefore, suggest that the government reconsider its decision on that,” it added.

On the just-ended Farmers Day celebration, the union commended the country’s gallant farmers for their hard work towards nation-building.

“Indeed, the agricultural sector, which encompasses food and cocoa, remains the key driver of the economy, in spite of the oil find and exploration.

“We could not have progressed as a nation without the toil and sacrifices of our farmers who opted for farming to feed the nation,” the statement said.