The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has given thumbs up to the several initiatives to provide the much needed jobs in the 2019 Budget Statement and Economic Policy.
These measures include infrastructural development, modernization of agriculture, industrialization, entrepreneurship development, revenue mobilization and social interventions.
The construction of railway, roads and highways, bridges and housing for workers will provide jobs for thousands of young people, the union noted.
These are contained in the Union’s preliminary assessment of the 2019 budget within the context of the proposals the TUC submitted to government ahead of the budget.
The assessment, which was signed by Dr. Yaw Baah Secretary-General of TUC, expressed happiness about the Nations’ Builders Corps programme (NABCO), which has, so far, provided nearly 100,000 jobs to young graduates across the country.
The TUC urged government to consider registering the NABCO beneficiaries with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to inculcate in them the spirit of long-term savings.
“Beside the NABCO, in the last two years, government has either recruited or given financial clearance for the recruitment of more than 88,000 workers into various public service institutions in the agriculture, health and education sectors,” it said.
The Labour Union stated that the provision of public sector employment would go a long way to alleviate the challenges facing young jobseekers. “It will also help to improve public service delivery particularly in the health, education and taxation.
“But, the only way to create jobs on a more sustainable basis is to empower our domestic private sector to create more decent jobs for those who cannot be employed in the public sector,” it added.
It tasked government to use the various ‘special initiatives’, including the ‘One District, One Factory’, the ‘One Village, One Dam’ and the ‘Planting For Food and Jobs’ to shore up the domestic private sector.
“Government must also proactively provide support to the private sector in a form of trade policy reforms to empower our private sector to compete and expand,” the Union said.
Collection of quarterly employment data
It described plans to provide financial resources to the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) and the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR) to collect quarterly employment data is a step in the right direction.
TUC also commended the government for reviewing the 35 percent tax on incomes in excess of GH?10,000.
Per the review, the government will now charge the tax on earners of GH?20,000 and above.
“In our comment on the mid-year budget review, we described the tax as ‘too high’ and urged government to reconsider it. We are happy to note that government has responded positively to our plea,” it added.
With regards to a draft policy on tax exemptions, TUC is convinced that it is the right thing to do following growing shortfalls in tax revenues and the increasing demands on government to provide both economic and social infrastructure and services.
It encouraged government to review all tax exemptions and scrap those that are not benefiting the country.
Tax incentives for local firms
Instead, the Labour Union charged government to provide tax incentives for local firms that are able to employ a significant number of university graduates, in particular, and young people in general.
Banking Sector Bailout
TUC commended the Bank of Ghana for the bold and pragmatic policies being implemented to bring sanity into the banking sector.
GH¢9.9bn bailout to save 1.5 million depositors
Government has, so far, protected 1.5 million depositors at the cost of GH¢9.9 billion to the Ghanaian taxpayer.
Exit package for bank workers who lost jobs
TUC made a special appeal to government to consider paying the exit packages to workers who lost their jobs in the affected banks, as a result of the reforms taking place in the banking sector saying the exit packages are meant to provide financial support to the affected workers and their families while they search for other jobs.
TUC noted government’s plan to institutionalize social partnership among Organised Labour, Ghana Employers’ Association, to provide the avenue for harnessing ideas for effective management of our economy and said it was a step in the right direction.
The plight of prisoners
The Union made a special appeal to government to pay more attention to conditions in prisons and urged President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to visit compatriots in the prisons as soon as possible to assess with his own eyes the appalling conditions in our prisons.
The Minister for Finance explained that the state is facilitating the process of building the cathedral by “providing the land, the secretariat and the seed money for the preparatory phase”.
But the TUC pointed out that the position of government was inconsistent with the earlier statements so eloquently espoused by government officials that public money will not be invested into it and reiterated its call on government to move away from such non-priority projects.
TUC pledges to support government
“We would like assure government that the TUC and its affiliates stand ready to partner government and employers to chart a new path for Ghana.
“We should collectively aim at supporting the President towards achieving his vision of Ghana Beyond Aid.
“With the natural and human resources available to Ghana, we believe strongly that we can manage our affairs without the IMF in particular and aid in general,” it added.