The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says the government is determined to finding a satisfactory solution to the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) impasse to ensure the academic calendar is not derailed.
He has also expressed the hope that the parties involved in the impasse would exhibit good faith and equity to bring the stalemate to an end.
The President said this when he addressed the maiden National Labour Conference on the theme; “Strengthening Tripartism for Building Peaceful Labour Relations and Resilient Economy” held at Kwahu Nkwatia in the Eastern Region.
The conference was purposed to reinforce a tripartite conversation on the dynamics and happenings on the Labour front for timely policy response.
Topics including the state of the economy, conditions of service of public sector workers, public sector salaries, labour productivity, labour dispute prevention dissolution and sustainable pension for all were discussed at the conference.
President Akufo-Addo said the government would implement a new policy to cut down on budget of ministries, agencies and departments by 20 per cent this year as a measure to ensure fiscal consolidation.
That, he said, was part of the government’s measure to recover the economy.
Adding to measures to recover the economy, the President expressed the urgent need for domestic revenue mobilisation.
“There is an urgent need to enhance significantly our capacity and domestically do revenue mobilisation to realise our development potential and create opportunities for our vibrant and dynamic youth, and also deliver improved livelihood for them,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo said “we cannot do effective domestic mobilisation to raise the needed funds if only 10 per cent of the population was paying direct tax.”
“We cannot continue to allow less than 10 per cent, specifically 7.8 per cent, that is 2.4 million people of the population to carry the direct tax burden of 30.8 million people, and there is the need to provide an opportunity for every Ghanaian to contribute towards nation building,” and added the need to bring on board the informal sector.
He, therefore, stated that the introduction of the E-Levy was one innovative fiscal measure which would help improve taxes to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio on an equitable base.
The President was delighted to see a tripartite constituents coming together to advance a cause for the progress of our nation, adding that it would promote social dialogue and peaceful labour relations.
He said the conference offered unique opportunity to interact face to face with all stakeholders to ensure workers and employees’ welfare and well-being.
He commended the organisers of the conference and added that such dialogues would help eradicate labour unrest.
For his part, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Ignatius Baffour Awuah, said the recent agitation on the labour front had the potential to impact negatively on productivity, security, as well as the well-being of the citizenry if not properly handled.
He conceded labour unrest had negative effect on the economy and was hopeful the conference would bring solutions for harmony for a resilient national economy, saying that his outfit was poised to deliver on mandate as a regulator of labour in accordance with the Labour Act 2003 act 651.
The Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, raised concerns about the growing pay inequalities across the public service over the decade, although the single spine was introduced in 2010 to deal with the inequalities.
The TUC Secretary General could not understand why Chief Executive Officers of state enterprises were earning higher than the President, while the enterprises they oversaw were making huge loses.
He called on the President to use his executive powers to fast track the review of the Labour Act 2003 Act 651 in order to protect the few relatively decent jobs.
The TUC Secretary General recounted job losses in the private sector, and pointed out the situation would get worse in the mining sector while labour laws were not protecting workers.
FROM AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN, KOFORIDUA