Deputy Finance Minister John Kumah says government is not against any opportunity that will improve the conditions of workers in the country.

Speaking to Samson Lardy Anyenini, the host of Newsfile on Saturday, he said government will continue to engage relevant stakeholders until all salary concerns are fully addressed.

“Workers in Ghana have played a very crucial role in bringing our country to the levels and state that we find ourselves, and as a government, we are very appreciative of the role of workers, and we’d continue to do our best to improve the conditions of salaries and benefits of workers in Ghana.

“The good book has said that the labourer is worth his wages. So, whatever we can all do to make the Ghanaian worker a happier worker is also an objective of government,” he said.

According to him, the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic affected the country’s productivity, a situation that has had adverse impacts on the state’s resources.

He noted that the Trades Union Congress’s (TUC) request for an upward adjustment in salaries is legitimate, “except that as well know, we will all have to understand the reality of what we are all confronted with and see what we can do.”

“The reality too is that sometimes the available resources do not allow government to push to the levels that workers may expect government to be able to do.”

The Ejisu MP acknowledged that one of the factors responsible for the current difficulty is the lack of adequate revenue and the limited fiscal space.

Dr Kumah said government is not insensitive to the plights of workers.

“The fact is that ¢30 billion of all that was collected in 2021, which is about 52.6%, went into compensation or payment of workers’ salaries.

“If you are collecting ¢57 billion, and giving ¢30 billion to workers, what is left which is about ¢27 billion is what must take care of all other government commitments.

“We are talking about interest payment and amortisation, which government cannot do anything about, and we have to commit to paying them.

“We are talking about statutory payments, which government has to pay; we are talking about government flagship programmes and all kinds of other obligations that the government will have to handle,” he explained.

Background

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) pushed government to adjust workers’ basic salary to meet the rising levels of inflation, something they say is making it difficult for them to meet their basic needs.

Addressing an Organised Labour pre-May Day forum in Accra on Wednesday, the General Secretary of TUC, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, said it was no secret that remuneration for many workers has been bad for many years, saying Covid-19 and the Russia-Ukraine crisis could not take the blame.

“That is so because a reduction in exchange rates results in a frequent rise in the prices of goods and services since most of these products are imported with foreign exchange. This phenomenon affects the value of workers’ remuneration.

“Inflation is another issue – the prices of goods and services are going up, so if salaries are not adjusted to reflect these phenomena, workers will continue to struggle. The job crisis did not start with Ukraine.

“It predates the Ukrainian war; it came before the Covid-19 and, therefore, we think it is not right to blame the Ukrainian war and Covid-19 for every job crisis we have in this country,” he stated.

Meanwhile, a Finance lecturer at the University of Ghana Prof Godfred Bokpin has called on the government to engage labour unions in the country over their salary and allowance concerns.

He said the failure to engage and reach consensus over the current situations might dwindle productivity.

“You also have to look at what the economy can afford; whether the government has the fiscal space to be able to load on all of that…that will be very helpful rather than just saying that let’s strictly use the inflation, let’s say 19 point so per cent and all of that,” he said.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.