The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has commended the government for its management of the economy so far but expressed worry at the slow pace of employment generation.

It said it expected more comprehensive employment policy initiatives and employment targets for every region and district in the Budget Statement and Economic Policy for 2011.

The union said the official data for the first half of the year indicated that the national economy was in good health, at least in relative terms.

“The figures show a downward trend in inflation; the cedi has stabilised against the major international currencies; the budget deficit has reduced substantially and, in the view of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), the trend of disinflation will, in the medium term, enhance growth,” it said.

These were contained in a proposal submitted by the TUC to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning as its input for consideration in the 2011 budget.

In spite of macroeconomic stability, the union said, “As has been the case in the past three decades, macroeconomics improvements have failed to translate into social progress.”

The union observed that the employment challenge was becoming ever more daunting, especially at a time when the government continued to implement a policy of net hiring freeze in the public sector.

It said the informal sector was expanding with jobs of very low quality in terms of earnings, job security and social protection, while the policy of trade liberalisation continued to hinder the creation of decent employment in the private sector.

According to the TUC, the surest way to get round that vicious circle was
to move away from the inflation-targeting policy to employment-targeting.

It further expressed delight at the effort by the government to begin the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP), in spite of the enormous challenges.

However, the union said it was its expectation that all public service workers would also see substantial improvements in their pay levels and pledged its commitment to continue to work with the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission (FWSC) to ensure the full implementation of the SSPP.

The TUC expressed appreciation at the effort towards the involvement of the people in the budgetary process and urged the government to deepen the process by giving interested individuals and organisations enough time to make submissions.

It further urged the government to make available to all stakeholders accurate and up-to-date information on the economic and social situation of the country so that organisations and individuals could make informed contributions to the budgetary process.

The statement said the continued emphasis on tight monetary policy and inflation targeting was a clear indication that the views of civil society organisations (CSOs) were not respected in national economic policy-making.

The union held the view that issues usually considered, by the government were those from the IMF and the World Bank and indicated that that should not be the case because “we are all witnesses to the mess these institutions created in Africa with their structural adjustment programmes in the 1980s”.

The statement further urged the NDC government to fulfil its promise of making employment creation the centrepiece
of its policies and the basis for growing the national economy.

It also advised it to assess its performance mainly on the basis of the number of jobs created during the year and refrain from using inflation as the main indicator of its performance.

On the management of the oil revenue, the TUC underscored the need for the government to learn from the experiences of other oil-producing countries and pursue measures to ensure transparent, accountable and judicious utilisation of oil revenue.

It observed that although within a few weeks the country would join the ranks of oil-producing countries, the legal and institutional framework for the management of oil revenue/resources remained unclear.

The TUC welcomed the government’s proposal to establish the Investment Management Committee (IMC) for the purposes of oil revenue investments and management but suggested that the committee be structured in a way that guaranteed its independence operationally and financially.

The union expressed the view that the Petroleum Revenue Management Bill, in its current state, gave too much discretion in many areas to the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

It, therefore, recommended that the discretion of the minister be exercised in consultation with the relevant stakeholders, including the IMC, Parliament and the Bank of Ghana.

On the International Trade Policy and the Economic Partnership Agreement, the TUC said the country’s current trade policy was inimical to enterprise development and job creation, since it subjected local enterprises to excessive and unfair foreign competition.

Source: Daily Graphic

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