The Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) are to migrate onto the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) this month, following the completion of their mapping exercise by the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC).

The Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Dr Kwabena Duffuor, said the completion of the mapping exercise paved the way for the government to pay the soldiers under the new pay policy at the end of next month.

In an interview with the Daily Graphic over the weekend, Dr Duffuor added that the mapping exercises for the other security agencies were almost complete, adding that the exercise would continue with all other government workers.

He, therefore, discounted claims that the implementation of the exercise for the other workers had been deferred, saying that the exercise was on course.

The Finance Minister stressed that the implementation of the new pay policy was on course and would be continued until all workers on government payroll migrated onto the new structure.

He said the migration was also being done carefully and ‘orderly’ and that there was no turning back on the implementation of the ambitious salary structure.

His assertions came in the wake of reports in sections of the media quoting a Deputy Finance Minister, Mr Fiifi Kwetey, as saying that the government was planning to defer the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) to 2011.

The country’s development partners, particularly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), have expressed concern over the implementation of the new wage structure, describing it as very “expensive”, with the potential to widen the government’s fiscal deficit.

They have, therefore, warned that unless new sources of finance are found or labour productivity is improved, the policy could have a debilitating impact on government coffers.

But the essence of the new pay policy is to solve that very issue of low public sector productivity by enhancing wages, with concomitant reforms in the public service to be anchored on the modernisation of the work environment.

This explains why the government is concurrently implementing the Ghana project, which has an e-Government project to modernise key ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to enable them to scale up their productivity.

For example, the integration of the three domestic revenue agencies into the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the subsequent modernisation of their system, procedures and processes, which is also being done for the Registrar General’s Department; are all part of the e-government programme to enhance productivity to justify the enhanced public sector wages.

The Ministry of Finance is also implementing the Ghana Integrated Financial Management Information System (GIFMIS) to improve the quality of expenditure and save resources to meet new financial obligations such as the SSPP.

Dr Duffuor said what Mr Kwetey had sought to explain was that the government was so committed to the process that even if all arrears could not be paid this year, it would negotiate with organised labour to spread the payment.

Asked when workers such as nurses and teachers would be migrated onto the SSSS, the Finance Minister said both categories of workers were the biggest grouping of government workers and as such their mapping was laborious and still in progress.

“Workers with the Ghana Health Service and the Ghana Education Service, as well as university teachers, are among the largest grouping of government workers and so the mapping for them is still continuing. We are doing this with their unions so that each party will be convinced and satisfied with the new structure,” Dr Duffuor explained.

The Chief Executive of the FWSC, Mr George Smith-Graham, also told the Daily Graphic that the commission had received no indication from the government to defer the implementation of the SSSS to next year .

“Rather, the FWSC has so far received tremendous support from the government to ensure the smooth implementation of the SSSS,” he said .

Mr Smith-Graham explained that the implementation of the SSSS was not a one-off event but a process, buttressed by the government’s White Paper on the implementation of the SSPP which indicated that the policy could be implemented in phases over five years.

“Considering the enormity of the implementation process it is a fact that not all institutions (over 100) can be migrated onto the SSSS at a go. The initial mapping of individual jobholders onto the Single Spine Grade Structure will have to be done first by individual institutions,” the chief executive said.

Mr Smith-Graham assured all stakeholders that the implementation of the SSPP was on course and thanked them, particularly organised labour, associations and institutions, for their support.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana