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Why the 'angry' YEA employees besieged Forestry Commission to demand payment of accumulated allowance

BY: Timothy Ngnenbe
 Military men restraining some of the aggrieved employees of the YEA who stormed the Forestry Commission offices in Accra  from entering  the premises of the commission. Picture: EMMANUEL QUAYE
Military men restraining some of the aggrieved employees of the YEA who stormed the Forestry Commission offices in Accra from entering the premises of the commission. Picture: EMMANUEL QUAYE

Scores of employees under the Youth in Afforestation module of the Youth Employment Agency (YEA) Tuesday stormed the offices of the Forestry Commission in Accra to demand their unpaid accumulated allowance.

They complained that since they were recruited in May this year, some of them had not received any allowance, while the allowance of other beneficiaries had been outstanding since July.

When they received information that the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh, was visiting the commission, they mobilised and moved to the area to voice out their grievance.

They chanted and shouted: "We need our money", "Pay us now", "We are tired of failed promises", as they forcibly tried to gain entry into the premises of the Forestry Commission.

It took the timely intervention of some military men to stop the irate YEA employees from entering the main compound of the commission.

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Mr Asomah-Cheremeh, who was at the commission, together with the Deputy Minister in charge of Forestry, Mr Benito Owusu-Bio, to interact with the staff, was compelled to temporarily put that on hold to stem the tide.

Promise

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After some back and forth movements, the aggrieved employees were promised that their money would be paid within the week.

The Chief Executive Officer of the commission, Mr Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, told the agitated youth that the money had been lodged in the GCB account of the commission and would be paid into the e-zwich accounts of the employees.

"We have not been sleeping over the unpaid allowances and we are happy to say that by Wednesday you will all be laughing to the bank because you will be paid your allowances," he said.

Meanwhile, a document sighted by the Daily Graphic showed that the Bank of Ghana lodged GH¢20,474,000 into the Forestry Commission’s account on December 13.

It further showed that the commission issued an order on December 17 for the money to be paid to all the employees.

Reshuffle

In a related development, the ministry has started implementing reforms that will see the staff of all the nine agencies under it being transferred across the agencies.

Announcing the reforms to the staff of the Forestry Commission yesterday, Mr Asomah-Cheremeh said some top officials of the Minerals

Commission had already been asked to report to the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources for redeployment to other agencies where their services were needed.

"These reforms will see many of you being transferred to other agencies across the regions, so you need to brace yourselves up so that you will not be overtaken by events.

“This is not witch-hunting but rather a move that is aimed at ensuring that expertise is evenly spread. Some people have been at one place for more than 20 years and things must change," he said.

The minister added that the move would help check corrupt tendencies, since "familiarity breeds contempt".

He urged the workers to be diligent in their work and improve service delivery to the public.