Accra, Dec. 4, GNA – The Trade Union Congress (TUC) in collaboration with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has held a post budget policy forum to deliberate and provide a more detailed response from organized labour on the 2019 budget.
The forum was to provide organized labour with the raw materials for the finalization of their comments and for workers and their unions to deliberate on the budget and provide their views to government and all other stakeholders.
Mr Alhassan Iddrisu, Director, Economic Research and Forecasting Division, Ministry of Finance, said the budget was the revenue and expenditure plans of government for the people.
He said the economy has four sectors, the real sector, the external sector, the fiscal sector, and the monitory sector and there are inter relations among all the sectors, where activities in one sector affects others.
He said there has been some significant achievements so far especially from 2017, saying macroeconomic stability was resorted and sustained; high growth over the past three years following a rebound in 2017; fiscal deficits as GDP reduced; first primary balance in about 20 years; inflation was brought down to single digits; significant strides in financial sector cleanup; and other key social and economic milestones achieved under two years.
He said key problems remain emerging markets pressure, challenges with revenue mobilization and large infrastructure deficit
Mr Iddrisu said the six priority areas of the 2019 budget include: infrastructure, industry, agriculture, revenue mobilization and efficiency in public spending, entrepreneurial support and social partnership adding that restoring and sustaining macroeconomic stability through prudent and complementary fiscal and monitory policies are key for growth and job creation in the 2019 budget.
He said the 2019 budget provides ample opportunity to sustain macroeconomic stability and grow the economy for jobs and improvement in livelihoods.
The IMF exit calls for increased fiscal discipline and this is expected to be achieved through the institution of a fiscal responsibility rule, fiscal council, social partnership, and other measures to promote credibility and fiscal sustainability.”
Mr Joshua Ansah, Deputy Secretary General, TUC, said their discussions at the forum would signal to government about how workers and unions felt about the budget. “We are here today to understand the budget itself as labour so that we can really come up with our views.”
From observation, while the Ghana’s economy is growing as measured by the growth of GDP, it was not creating decent employment. The trade policy remains inconsistent with government’s flagship programmes of one district one factory and overriding necessities to address mass unemployment.
Incomes have fallen for most workers, many workers are not contributing to pensions.
He said in the 2019 budget, the TUC was of the view that the exit of IMF was something that they had canvassed for, for so many years and were happy that at long last the exiting of the IMF programme has been captured by the 2019 budget.
He said for them in labour, the IMF programme has never helped them but rather deteriorated and made people worse especially workers, saying that once Ghana was exiting from IMF it was important to be conscious about disciplining ourselves, as IMF only comes in when the identify that a country was not disciplined.
If we discipline ourselves, the exit of the IMF is going to be positive and the union was happy with the resourcing of the special prosecutor, because with checks the expenditure and procurement policies there would be stabilization in some of the monies and expenditure.
“It is time for government to raise the whip against any irregularity or anything that is tantamount to corporate act.”
Dr Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, Diorector, LPRI, TUC-Ghana, said the theme for the 2019 budget suggests that the employment challenges are still receiving some attention from the managers of the economy as it has several initiatives to provide jobs, adding that government had either recruited or given financial clearance for the recruitment of more than 88,000 workers into various public service institutions in the agriculture, health and education sector.
On incomes and earnings, he said, government continues to emphasize on reducing the wage bill regardless of its implications for standard of living and productivity.
He urged government to consider registering the NABCO beneficiaries with SNNIT and to use the various special initiatives to shore up the domestic private sector, saying the best way to create jobs on a more sustainable basis was to empower the domestic private sector and proactively provide support to them in the form of trade policy reforms.
Dr Otoo commended government for scrapping 35 percent tax on incomes in excess of GH¢ 10,000.00 and encouraged it to review all exemptions and scrap those that were not benefiting the country.
Mr Fritz Kopsieker, FES, Resident Director, said the post budget forum from organized labour is very important, as the budget is meant to present government’s revenue or financial plans for its people.
He said as government is positioning the country as the preferred location for foreign direct investment in sub Saharan Africa, the creation of employment would attract the attention of foreign investments and economic growth.