The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is pleased that among other laudable policies, including employment policies, government did not introduce any new tax in the mid-year budget review.
In its proposals for the mid-year budget review, the TUC recognised the devastating effects of COVID-19 on businesses, employment and livelihoods as well as on the economy, and called on government not introduce any new tax in the mid-year budget review.
“We believe that with these policies, the 5 percent GDP growth target in the 2021 Budget Statement can be achieved.”
In its assessment of the Fiscal Review of the 2021 National Budget, the TUC noted that more attention needs to be paid to the agricultural sector, because the sector can play a very important role in the recovery efforts.
“Planting for Food and Jobs (PFJ) needs to revamped, and sustained by eliminating waste and focusing more on delivering inputs and agronomic services to farmers promptly.”
It therefore called on government to support some local farmers to become commercial farmers in order to produce rice, maize and poultry for local consumption and export.
The umbrella-body of 21-affiliate national unions observed that the industrial sector growth was the lowest for the first quarter of 2021, pointing to failures in implementation of the ‘One District, One Factory’ initiative.
“Industry (particularly manufacturing) is our best bet to transform the Ghanaian economy and create decent employment for the youth.” Consequently, the TUC urged government to work closely with the Association of Ghana Industries and other stakeholders to revamp the manufacturing sector.
It notes that the sector has the greatest potential for creating decent employment, increasing export revenues and supporting the cedi’s exchange rate.
On the public debt situation, the body observed that figures presented in the Mid-Year Review point to the fact the national debt stock is becoming unsustainable.
“Even more alarming is the fact that in the first half of 2021 the share of interest payment in total national expenditure was 29.6 percent, and over half of total revenues (including grants) – some 53 percent – was used to pay interest on the national debt.”
This calls for more aggressive efforts toward revenue collection. Establishing the Revenue Assurance, Compliance and Enforcement (RACE) unit is a step in the right direction, it added.
On the economic and employment situation, the TUC welcomes government’s initiative to create one million jobs by 2024. It however urged government to ensure that the jobs it intends to create are decent jobs which offer living wages and beneficiaries contribute to social security.
On wage inequality within and across institutions in the public sector, the TUC is calling for fairness in the public sector reward system.
“The leaked report of the Presidential Committee on Emoluments (PCE) has revealed pay inequities between Article 71 office-holders and other public sector workers.”
It notes that public sector workers who are not on the Single Spine Salary Structure, including Article 71 office-holders, continue to enjoy substantially higher pay and other privileges compared to those placed on the Single Spine Salary Structure.
“Clearly, the Single Spine Pay Policy has failed to achieve its objectives. Nothing short of a comprehensive review of the public sector pay regime can stem the flood of agitation in the public sector.”
While real incomes are falling, the cost of living is rising it added. “We are also calling for an upward adjustment of the income tax-free threshold to give some relief to workers.