The Minister for Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, is expected to present the 2022 budget statement to Parliament today in accordance with Article 179 of the 1992 Constitution and Public Financial Management (PFM) Act 2016 (Act 921).
It has become an acceptable ritual that before and after the budget is read various persons, individual professionals and representatives of organisations make some comments.
The pre-budget comments are usually expectations, whereas the post-budget ones involve critiques that point out loopholes or gaps and those that lauds it.
On Monday, the General Secretary of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) Ghana, Mr Morgan Ayawine, as part of pre-budget comments, told the Ghanaian Times that “the 2022 budget must address issues of unemployment and casualisation among the youth in the country”.
The General Secretary of ICU said the issue of casual work, which was prevalent among the youth, must be tackled, saying casual workers were denied job security.
He also suggested that the overtime tax must be abolished to motivate workers to put in their best to increase productivity.
Mr Ayawine and other persons who spoke to the paper shared views on how the COVID-19 pandemic had exacerbated the already harsh economic situation in the country by pushing a lot of people out of jobs, and called for measures to cushion the citizens against the growing hardship in the country.
They highlighted the urgent need for the government to come up with pragmatic policies to create jobs to address the ever-rising unemployment and economic decline.
Meanwhile, MrOfori-Atta hinted the Ghanaian Times last week that the 2022 budget would focus on job creation and skills training to help address the growing youth unemployment in the country.
In fact, a budget always talks about issues including unemployment, job creation and general economic decline, but the concern of this paper is this year’s budget must make room for more jobs because the abundance of jobs means absence of severe unemployment.
Severe unemployment results in high dependency ratio as the few income earners have to meet the basic needs of the rest, with the care for the children and the elderly becoming obligatory to a large extent.
That is to say that sometimes, the unemployed youth are mostly left to suffer unbearable hardships which push some of them into socio-economic vices like robbery, fraud and prostitution.
It is utopian to have an unemployment-free country, but if there are opportunities for the most active and energetic part of the society, the youth, to, at least, eke a living, the security threats associated with unemployment could be contained.
Therefore, it makes sense,socio-economic and security-wise, for the government to respond to calls for it to address unemployment and related problems and so this paper believes that the government would prioritise the solution of youth unemployment in particular as promised by the finance minister.
And while doing that, casualisation of the jobs given to the youth must be tackled. It is now a common feature of organisations, including public-sector ones, to give certain jobs to the youth on casual basis, yet these young adults work for years for the organisations without them enjoying benefits as the rest of the workers.
The most heart-breaking aspect of it is that when there is the need to make their positions permanent, they are laid off and others brought in.
Peace would elude this country if youth joblessness vis-à-vis job creation is played down