Business News of 2014-03-13

Comment: Dealing with the wage bill

The implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) has been received with varied reactions. At one stage the reaction could be mixed; at another stakeholders were unanimous that the policy has corrected the distortions in public pay administration.

When the SSPP took off on an uncertain note in 2010, both the government, as an employer, and public sector workers were happy about the enhancement of the pay structure after many years of our inability to pay workers something for which they would be happy.

However, the road map to the implementation of the SSPP was fraught with challenges, as the government was not able to migrate all public sector workers onto the structure in one phase.

Presently, we are told that almost all workers have been migrated onto the structure, although issues with the SSPP still threaten industrial harmony.

The challenges of the SSPP are not related to only the migration onto the scheme but also the agitation by all public sector workers to enjoy other benefits such as market premium.

Last year, for instance, most of the professional bodies embarked on industrial actions to back their demand for their migration onto the new pay scheme.

In presenting the government’s Budget Statement and Financial Policy for 2014 last November, Mr Seth Terkper, the Minister of Finance, proposed a wage freeze that would help reduce the stranglehold on the economy.

The proposal was met with fierce opposition from organised labour, who said the suggestion could only be inimical to the aspirations of working people.

Even as of now the government and organised labour are not in any compromising mood over the future of the SSPP. While the government would have wished that the implementation process be put on hold for a while, organised labour wants more money to make up for the increasing rate of inflation and other economic hardships.

But unlike in the past, it appears the government and the opposition seem to be singing the same tune about what should be done to the SSPP.

A former Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance in the Kufuor administration, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, has advocated the curtailment of further payment of salaries using the SSPP, saying that is the surest way of reversing Ghana’s economic woes.

Speaking at the first-ever Daily Graphic/Fidelity Bank Breakfast Meeting, Dr Akoto Osei said “the current wage bill is unsustainable. We should defer further payment of the single spine salary and regulations for retrenchment must begin now”.

The outcomes so far show that wholesale implementation of the SSPP was not the best way to handle the big public sector pay administration.

Perhaps if the government had hastened slowly in implementing the policy, the pressure on the national budget would have been more manageable.

Be that as it may, the Daily Graphic commends Dr Akoto Osei for shedding the political garb and addressing the issues in a non-partisan manner.

The government itself has already expressed similar sentiments and we expect the political parties to collaborate with it to find solutions to the ills plaguing the economy.

« Previous | Next »
View Comments
News Categories
Site Menu