Opinions of Fri, 7 Oct 20161

BoG gold watches saga: The hard truth analysis

The Bank of Ghana has played down public outcry about stories doing

the rounds that the Central bank has been insensitive with the kind of

benefit handed out to deserving staff who have worked with the bank

for 30 years or more.

However, an independent analysis of the amount of money spent on the

watches by one Dan Antwi making rounds on social media ndicates that

it would translate to paying each retiring staff a meager 863 Ghana

Cedis for each year of Service.

Explaining the rationale behind the gift of gold watches to 3FM,

Bernard Otabil, Communications Head, Bank of Ghana said the gift was

meant for staff who had served with the Central Bank for 30 years or

more, “in gratitude for the years of dedicated service”.

Whereas the general concern has been about the amount spent on the

watches, there are others that have raised issues on whether it was

appropriate for the Central Bank to use sole sourcing to secure the

watches.

The Central Bank in a release has explained the reason behind the

decision to procure the watches and the adoption of the sole-sourcing

approach.

The independent analysis showed that indeed 48 units of gents’ 18

karat Tissot watches and 25 units of ladies watches of the same brand

and quality would be procured at a cost of around 426,000 Euros for

those retiring in 2016 and 2017.

Using an exchange rate of 4.44 cedis to the euro the total amount

spent would be 1,891,440 million Ghana Cedis on the watches.

“This translates into a spending of 25,910 Ghana Cedis on each

retiring staff, given the benefit on a yearly basis of 863 cedis for

every year's service to the bank,” the analysis concluded.

The analysis, properly put in perspective, makes it difficult for

anyone to understand the hue and cry, when viewed against the

background that the award is meant to encourage loyalty and commitment

at the organizational level.

Central Bank sources told 3FM News that the process for the award and

commitments are handled purely by the Welfare Committee of the Bank

and is a longstanding tradition of the Bank.

Meanwhile, a former Deputy Governor of the BoG, Emmanuel Asiedu

Mantey, himself a recipient of a gold watch has debunked assertions

that the Central bank was using tax payer’s money to purchase gold

watches for retiring staff.

He described the public outcry against the purchase as, “pure misconception”

“The Central Bank,” he noted, “draws its balance sheet at the

beginning of every year … and it is from its internally generated

funds, not, repeat not, tax payer’s funds.”

He said the CB generates its own revenue through services and, “this

is how we raise this amount, despite the fact that we are a public

entity.”

He called for a more dispassionate discussion on the matter instead of

picking out the total amount of the watches and concluding that it was

wrong to do so.

Mr. Austin Gamey Chief Executive Officer & Principal Consultant in an

interview with 3fm news averred that the $504,000 worth of gold

watches meant as end-of-service awards for 72 retiring staff of the

Bank of Ghana who have worked for 30 years and beyond is “fair and

it is not an issue at all”.

According to him, critics are fighting the award out of ignorance. "…

We don't need to raise eyebrows, and those who are raising it, it's

perhaps because of lack of knowledge," adding: "Bank of Ghana workers

are in a special class – not distinguishing them in a way that

ridicules other people, no, far from that – but the reality is that we

are talking about a group of people who are assigned specific roles to

play and they (BoG) need to retain certain loyalty with them.

"They are not being paid a certain special pay or professional

allowance of a certain class that will warrant condemnation.

When you are talking about this kind of long service, the gold watch

is an end sign that is being given to them to retain the loyalty of

the people to remain there instead of switching camp to another

company that will require the services of such a person who would

contribute to the economic and finance management system within the

banking system in the Bank of Ghana, which we need, so, it cannot be

across the board," Mr. Gamey concluded.

The bank also explained that the procurement of the watches begun in

2012 when the Bank decided to procure the gold watches once every two

years (i.e. 2012/13 etc.) in order to control cost and make savings on

foreign exchange

With questions of morality and prudence surrounding the move to reward

retirees with gold watches, the Mr. Otabil indicated that, “If there

is the need for it to be reviewed from gold watches to any other item,

I am pretty sure that the competent managers of this bank will come up

with those reforms but for now the agreement between management,

unionised staff and the senior staff is what is being implemented ”.

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