The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on the government to introduce policies that will strengthen domestic industries and create employment in both the private and the public sectors.
It also urged the government to acknowledge the limitations of orthodox economic policy and reveal to Ghanaians the true state of the national economy.
These were contained in a statement which highlights issues the TUC would want the government to concentrate on ahead of the presentation of the 2015 national budget statement to Parliament.
In the statement, titled, “Better policies and better management for better Ghana”, the umbrella body of workers’ unions also made known its proposals and expectations on public sector pay, social protection, cost of living and the management of petroleum revenues.
It also made recommendations on how the government could transform the economy through prudent fiscal policies, trade and investment policies, employment creation, investment in labour market institutions and the transport sector.
True state of the economy
According to the statement, the budget, which is likely to be presented to Parliament by the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper, on November 20, 2014, must also be clear on how the government intended to eradicate corruption in the public sector and strengthen state institutions to underpin the better Ghana agenda.
“We expect the budget to lead Ghana away from poverty, destitution and ignorance that have afflicted many of our compatriots,” it stated.
Developments in the last couple of months, the statement said, “have clearly shown that Ghana’s economy is still very fragile”.
On the talks between the government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), it said the TUC still held the view that the IMF could not help Ghana.
“In fact, the weaknesses we are witnessing in the economy today have their roots in the IMF/World Bank–sponsored policies that have been implemented since the 1980s.
“We do not need an IMF bailout. We need a strong leader, the appropriate made-in-Ghana policies and strong institutions to deal with the economic challenges facing Ghana,” it emphasised.
It said the depreciating cedi, soaring inflation, burgeoning fiscal deficits, widening trade deficit, rising interest rates and the government’s inability to meet its statutory obligations were the result of inappropriate policies combined with pervasive corruption, cronyism, incompetence and partisanship.
High cost of living
High cost of living, the statement said, could trigger social unrest, adding that Ghana risked repeating the uproar of social upheavals “if we do not pay attention to the high cost of living now”.
The greatest challenge facing Ghana today, it said, was the inability of the economy to create jobs for the teeming youth roaming the streets in urban centres across the country.
“Even university graduates are finding it harder to access jobs. The continued implementation of the policy of net hiring freeze in the public sector is a clear indication that the government does not recognise its direct role in employment and human resource management,” it said.
It urged the government to also invest in labour market institutions such as the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations and its agencies, including the Labour Department, the Factories Inspectorate, the National Labour Commission and the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, which had suffered long periods of neglect.
“This partly explains the frequent strikes and labour unrest in the country. These institutions lack the resources to deal with labour issues,” it added.
Public sector pay
The statement reminded the government that the time for negotiations on an upward adjustment in public sector pay for 2015 was up.
“To avoid any potential confrontation between public sector unions and the government, we would like to advise the government to do whatever it takes to conclude negotiations on public sector pay and make the necessary provisions in the budget before it is presented to Parliament,” it said.
It said the TUC expected the 2015 budget to shed light on all the money accrued from oil and how that money had been utilised.
“This is what we need to restore public confidence in the government and the economy,” it pointed out.