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After President Nana Addo launched the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) on May 1, 2018, as one of his major interventions to tackle the issue of high unemployment rate, there have been several talks on the subject across the length and breath of our country. After following the NABCO intervention keenly with its many attendant social media reactions and airwave interviews and interactions, I realized that we have a long way to go as a nation.
Seemingly majority of people think that the government is actually doing the unemployed graduates a favour by employing them using this intervention and so they should just be paid anything. Unless the government doesn't want drastic productive results from this intervention, they should take this risk.
You know why it is risky for the government rather? Maximum productivity will not be achieved and that will be suicidal to the nation in the long run. People won't sacrifice to do that which they should do. And they are highly likely not going to be fired either. Unless there's strict monitoring and supervision, which I strongly doubt.
Some will even register and be employed without going to work but will be collecting their monthly stipends. If you can see how even people with good salaries generally behave towards government works, you will understand. The greatest heartbreak in this deal is that if care is not taken, many people will be receiving salaries for services they have not rendered to the nation.
However, this would have been a different case all together if it were a private sector issue. Because workers can be monitored and fired easily. Private sector workers can be engaged in cheap labour, and their employers can benefit tremendously from that because they can get away with it. But certainly, the direct opposite happens if a government makes such a wrong attempt.
Again, there are some potholes many people may not have spotted. Some of the modules appear not to have clear functional roles. Maybe, many people will not understand it now. Our eyes only see what our mind sees. Though these modules have good labeling on paper, in reality, employees who will be employed under these modules will virtually have no tangible roles to play when this intervention roles out fully in its entirety. There seems to be no tangible structures to support some of these modules. The resultant effect is that, many will be receiving the monthly 700.00 without any service. But let's leave that to the passage of time to tell.
We are told those to be engaged under NABCO will be receiving "nontaxable" monthly income. This is a serious matter. It is serious because it is dangerous to work without paying tax to government. I know everyone should know that governments generate revenues from taxes. If people are allowed to work in government agencies and institutions for a maximum of 3 years with nontaxable income, then I think something must be wrong somewhere. Does that appeal to your senses too? How will government generate more revenue to cater for the various pressing needs of our country? No matter how meagre we think the stipend is, people should be made to pay tax on it because government needs that tax for other developmental projects.
Tax payment is a responsibility. It is a way to instill responsibility and patriotism in the citizenry. It shows that we are serious as a country and we want to develop. There are many people with similar or higher qualifications in the private and public sectors with lesser income than 700.00 a month, yet they are paying tax. Even students' allowances come with tax deductions. Internship allowances too come with tax deductions.
Why then this policy? Or they will be taxed but we aren't told yet? 100,000 workers to be escaping tax payment under NABCO? Do you know how much tax revenue can be generated out of this? Do you know how beneficial that amount of money can be to the nation if put to good use? Perhaps, people have no idea. Even if it's one cedi tax, it should be instituted. Don't forget the number will even increase in the coming years.
If care is not taken, which I believe will not be taken, this is a deal to enrich the pockets of some few greedy politicians who may be at the helm of affairs for the implementation of this policy. We have enough past evidential proves to allude to. It is too early to forget interventions like GYEEDA, SADA and the rest, and how they ended. And to the leaders of this intervention, lots of youths will be applying. In your selection, be reminded that the unemployed graduates are all Ghanaians. Some are not more Ghanaian than others!
If there are no employment chances due to fiscal issues, it is better to be frank and do the needful. Else the youth will dance to the tune and beat of your own drum in a way you do not expect and like. The country rather largely looses and not the unemployed graduates. On paper, the plan looks good. On the grounds, it will beg to stand the test of time.
In the end, we do not want to see Nation Destroyers Corps (NADCO) instead of Nation Builders Corps (NABCO).
The writer is an author, analyst and a speaker.
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