TUC’s preliminary assessment of the 2019 budget  

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has expressed surprise at hearing the Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Attam, say the state is facilitating the process of building a cathedral by “providing the land, the secretariat and seed money for the preparatory phase”.

This, it notes, is inconsistent with the earlier statements so eloquently espoused by government officials. “We continue to urge government to move away from such non-priority projects.”

Following the national debate and TUC’s own statement on the Cathedral, some government officials including the Deputy Minister of Information, Pius Enam Hadzide, was categorical that the state was not going to commit any funds to the project beyond the provision of land.

The TUC and its affiliates however assured government that they stand ready to partner it and employers to chart a new path for Ghana.

“We should collectively aim at supporting the president toward achieving his vision of Ghana Beyond Aid. With the natural and human resources available to Ghana, we believe strongly that we can manage our affairs without the IMF in particular and aid in general.”

These form the preliminary assessment of the 2019 budget presented by the Finance Minister to Parliament on Thursday 15 November 2018, within the context of proposals submitted by the TUC to government ahead of the budget.

The TUC and its affiliates note that the provision of public sector employment will go a long way to alleviate the challenges facing young jobseekers. It will also help to improve public service delivery, particularly in health, education and taxation.

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“But the only way to create jobs on a more sustainable basis is to empower our domestic private sector to create more decent jobs for those who cannot be employed in the public sector.”

Government must use the various ‘special initiatives’ – including the ‘One-District-One Factory’, ‘One-Village-One-Dam’ and ‘Planting for Food and Jobs’ to shore-up the domestic private sector. Government must also proactively provide support to the private sector in a form of trade policy reforms which empower our private sector to compete and expand, the statement stated further.

“We are particularly happy about the Nations’ Builders Corps programme (NABCO), which has so far provided nearly 100,000 jobs for young graduates across the country.  The TUC urges government to consider registering the NABCO beneficiaries with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to inculcate in them a spirit of long-term saving.”

The TUC commended government for scrapping 35 percent tax on incomes in excess of GH¢10,000.

“In our comment on the mid-year budget review, we described the tax as ‘too high’ and urged government to reconsider it. We are happy to note that government has responded positively to our plea. We are aware of the growing shortfalls in tax revenues and the increasing demands on government to provide both economic and social infrastructure and services. The minister announced that government has completed a draft policy on tax exemptions that will be presented to Parliament in 2019. This is the right thing to do.

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“We encourage government to review all tax exemptions and scrap those that are not benefiting the country. Instead, government should provide tax incentives for local firms which are able to employ a significant number of university graduates, in particular, and young people in general.”

It also lauded the bold and pragmatic policies being implemented by the Bank of Ghana to bring sanity into the banking sector. According to Minister for Finance, government has so far protected 1.5 million depositors at a cost of GH¢9 billion to the Ghanaian taxpayer.

“We would like to make a special appeal for government to consider paying the exit packages of workers who lost their jobs in the affected banks as a result of the reforms taking place in the banking sector. The exit packages are meant to provide financial support to the affected workers and their families while they search for other jobs.”

The Labour body also made a special appeal to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to visit the prisons as soon as possible, to assess with his own eyes the appalling conditions in our nation’s prisons. Ghana is a civilised country, but the conditions in our prisons do not reflect that status, it added.

The TUC says it has taken note of government’s plan to institutionalise Social Partnership among Organised Labour, the Ghana Employers’ Association and government.

“We are committed to this partnership because we believe it will provide the necessary avenue for harnessing ideas for effective management of our economy.”

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