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Change of Ministers bane of Employment Ministry

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong

The frequency of the change of ministers at the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare (MESW) accounts for some of the challenges of the sector, some social partners have said.

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Since 2004, about seven ministers have been nominated to the ministry and their tenure has not lasted for more than three years.

Just about when they are getting a grip on the issues to be dealt with, they are sometimes moved to other ministries or dropped with the reshuffling of ministerial positions.

The National Project Manager of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Ghana Project Office, Mr Kwamina Amoasi-Andoh and the Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, who made these observations in separate interviews in Accra, therefore expressed the hope that the minister designate for the sector, Nii Armah Ashietey, who was vetted today, (February 11, 2013), would not be moved too soon when given the nod.

Mr Amoasi-Ando said the country lacked a comprehensive data on employment, with a labour market information system that was started in 2004 with assistance from some development partners such as the ILO, still uncompleted.

The result was that employment, which is a major indicator of development and human well being, could not be appropriately planned in the country.

Mr Amoasi-Andoh said the ILO office in Ghana, when contributing to international publications such as the Global Employment Trends 2013, made projections on employment from figures on new contributors to the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) in a particular year.

That, he said, gave just an estimation and not the total picture of employment in the formal sector which absorbed only about 10 per cent of the total employment.

The informal sector employs the highest number of people or about 90 per cent, with  agriculture and trade employing the most.

Thus, the challenge of data on employment, as well as the building of the capacities of staff at the ministry, needs stability in the tenure of ministers in order to drive the appropriate policies in overcoming them.

Mr Amoasi-Andoh also said the phenomenon of the short tenure of appointment of ministers was also an issue with some staff, as some, when by development partners to gain technical competencies on employment, were also transferred to other sectors.

"The rate at which ministers are changed at the ministry is not the best," Mr Asamoah, the Secretary-General of the TUC, said.

"Just when the ministers are beginning to understand issues, they are moved out. We really hope Nii Armah Ashietey stays long enough to effect the needed change," he added.

Mr Asamoah said from all indications, it seemed the minister designate understood, appreciated and was well-versed in issues of employment and labour relationships.

He expressed the hope that when sworn in, Nii Armah Ashietey would live up to the expectations of all the social partners.

Story by Caroline Boateng

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