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General News Wed, 22 Jan 2003

Ghana is not ready - TUC

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) on Tuesday said it recognized the need for government to increase fuel prices in the face of unstable macro economic factors but rejected the automatic price adjustment formula being implemented as a means to recover full cost.

Kwasi Adu-Amankwah, the TUC Secretary-General, said at a press conference in Accra that Ghana was not ready to work with such formulas because the nature of the country's macro economic environment lends itself easily to effects of external shocks.

He said Ghana could implement such a policy only when it had instituted appropriate measures for safeguarding the well being of the population. Government on Friday announced a near 100 percent increase in fuel prices that has generated a heated public debate.

Adu-Amankwah said there was the need for government to address itself to the fundamental challenge of economic planning and its execution as a means of economic management where market forces could be allowed to play a beneficial role through monitoring.

"Failure to begin to address these fundamentals reduces to an exercise in futility all the pressures which eventually led to the decision to raise the prices of petroleum products by up to nearly 100 per cent," he said.

"Without putting the economy on the path of transformation based on our own resources and inventiveness, the cedi will sooner or later slide substantially against the hard currencies, and this will call for a further hike.

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"When this is coupled with the least external shock, an example being another Gulf War, we could be compelled again and again to go through the political and economic crisis that hikes in petroleum products can produce."

Adu-Amamkwah urged the government to, without further delay, develop an active dialogue with the people on an economic plan structured around the pillars of agriculture, industrialization, harnessing of science and technology and the mobilization of human resources for the exploitation of natural resources.

"In our view, it is only within the parameters of such a plan stimulated by active state intervention that market forces can play a role in the critical transformation of our economy from a low-valued raw material producing economy."

Adu-Amankwah noted that it was time for stakeholders to come out with a realistic incomes policy. "We agree on the need for an immediate adjustment of wages and salaries to enable workers to cope with the changes in prices of petroleum prices but we demand that the wage increases be made in the context of a movement towards realistic wages that allow workers to meet the demands of the market."

Adu-Amankwah suggested that government provide on regular basis information on the petroleum sector and other areas of the economy for the people to better assess the economic management of the country.

Meanwhile, government has announced that it would announce salary adjustments next week. Senior Minister, Joseph Henry Mensah said the salary hike would be bout 20 per cent.

Source: .
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