Opinions Thu, 2 Jul 2015

Automatic price adjustment formula and workers pockets

It seems to me these days everything has been put on automatic price adjustment formula. The price of a gallon of petrol would see a further increase in price 1st july, 2015!

Just last week the GPRTU also adopted the automatic price adjustment formula that calls for an upward adjustment of lorry fares anytime there is an increase in fuel beyond 10%. Just as Ghanaians were beginning to adjust to this hardships and wahala in the adjustments, we hear the automatic price adjustment formula has affected utility bills!

The Public Utility and Regulatory Commission, I am told has proposed a 51.73% upward adjustment in Electricity and a 15% upward adjustment in water. Since it was set up, I have never seen any day that electricity and water bills have been adjusted downwards under same automatic price adjustment formula. This mechanism I suspect only adjust utility bills upwards every time.

The PURC uses the excuse of high fuel prices and fall in the value of the cedi to push hardships down the throats of Ghanaians!

Trust me dear reader, by next week, rice sellers would increase prices, it would affect tomatoes, fish, and all basic commodities including pure water and public toilets. At the centre of all these automatic price adjustment formulae is the "ordinary government worker".

Automatic price adjustment formula does not automatically adjust the workers salary upward! It rather pushes their salaries downward, their hardships and vulnerabilities upwards. Worse hit of these workers includes; teachers, policemen, civil servants and other public servants.

Their hardships are automatically adjusted anytime there is an upward adjustment in electricity and water tarrifs as well as fuel and lorry fare increments.

Their purchasing power is grossly eroded making them vulnerable to high-interest loan operators. Over 60% of male teachers are currently servicing multiple loans.

First, they take from the banks where their salaries passes through.

Second, they take from credit unions, and GNAT/NAGRAT.

Third, they take from saving and loans operators who charge over 50% interest. Most of these loans are used to pay school fees, service old loans, buy cement for a building project, bury a dead father, mother or child, pay hospital bills, pay rents, buy food, etc.

Everything around the worker these days erodes his/her purchasing power, but one thing that has suffered most and remained static and unchanged in this country is the worker's salary!

It doesn't know any automatic salary adjustment formula! All the workers salary knows is that at a corner in the budget of the government, they will throw some 10% adjustment per annum when they have calculated 17.5% taxes, adjusted fuel prices by over 40% per year, consumables automatically adjusted upward by about 35% per annum, utility tarrifs moves up by an average of 28% per annum, the workers salary remained static and miserably unchanged.

No any upward adjustments, rather there is an automatic downward erosion of the workers purchasing power. This erosion has created gullies in the pockets of the government workers, psychologically, it has affected their morale, interest and enthusiasm. Workers no longer look cheerful.

We have gone back to the days when workers used to wear one dress and one pair of shoes to work the entire week. Marriages are now collapsing partly due to the inability of husbands to settle petty economic issues at home.

There is an increased in the "child maintenance" cases at the DOVSU in each region due to neglect by fathers to take care of their children and the hardships that single mothers face in paying school fees, providing the basic needs of the child. Very soon, single fathers would begin to report women for neglecting their babies. Sadly, there is also a huge number of abandoned children in public toilets, refuse dump sites etc.

There is the need for this government to manage the economy prudently and competently. Workers must be given realistic wages in this country. They work so hard yet paid too little. An increase in the salary of a workers directly affects his/her purchasing power. It makes the home a good place to live and it affects tailors, trotro drivers, rice sellers, food vendors, cloth sellers etc. It has a positive rippling effect on the local economy.

Government must stem this automatic adjustments, of "hardships" in our lives because no one goes to the polls to vote for a government that would aggravate the hardships of her citizens.

The essence of voting for a particular party to administer this country is to govern competently so that the hardships of the ordinary citizens would be mitigated and to move this country to prouder heights. What do we see in this country, people come into power and they don't care about the people who voted them into power.

Instead of making life a bit comfortable of the citizens of this country, administrators of this nation are making life unbearable for the citizenry.

There is so much that workers owe their banks, their welfare associations and most disgustingly, the savings and loans banks that charge over 50% interest on loans.

If there is any moral justification for adjusting fuel prices, lorry fares, prices of consumables and utility bills, then there is a more moral justification for adjusting the salaries of workers upward in order to make life comfortable for them and their families.

To the workers and citizens of this country, any government that pushes hardships down your throats is not worth voting for. We must scrutinize the manifestos of the various political parties and hold them accountable to what they promise to do.

It is also very proper to send this current NDC government a big message next year. We must send them a message that " I care 4 U" and "Working 4 U" doesn't mean stealing from you or chopping for you. It most really mean feeling the pains of the ordinary citizens. A government must be compassionate in dealing with the sufferings of the masses. A government must show competency in managing our economy.

Anything short of this we must boot that government out of power and install a new one. We should keep changing them till politicians begin to take the citizens serious.

By: Kingsley Kofi Karikari

(Plantain farmer, Asebu).


Columnist: Kingsley Kofi Karikari