Honorable Public executives and Friends,
I want to bring this topic up for discussion and I believe we can, together, find a long term solution. There is no justification why a public official in a developing nation where government cannot plan to deliver water and electricity should be paid more then a medical doctor! No way!
Humans should be rewarded based on the value of what they contribute; and there is a required investment of time and talent every one brings to deserve their rewards in life.
The World Bank and UN economics and human development statistics show that more than 80% of the population of Ghana live on less than $2 per day (say about ghc 7 per day or 210 per month).
I was interviewing somebody in mid June 2015 in Ghana (thanks to Skype) and a very nice young man, talented, completed KNUST with 2nd class Upper and earning Ghc 450 per month! My gosh!
Obviously this is not untypical and most employees at the lower ranks of the food chain are perhaps not that far off. Lets say its Ghc 600.
What can Ghana do to pay people better?
Simple Answer: We have to produce more!!
Question: Are we producing and not paying people well, or that we are simply not able to produce and compete globally and earn a profit enough in the private sector, and hence unable to offer better pay! I speak as an employer and former employee.
For anybody who has ever been in business you will understand. Paying rent, and utilities, and transportation, and cost of raw materials, and paying others is not easy! And we do have to employ others to help us achieve our business vision. Even in America koraa, it is not easy for small businesses, despite 24/7/365 power, built roads and highways that facilitate deliveries at say average 40 miles in 60 minutes, and lots of incentives such as small business capital funding (especially after you survive for 2 years). I have been there and seen it, and even tasted the bitter end of courts cases! Even America koraa, as one Chief Director of Roads and Highways told us, "they have some potholes on their roads".
What is sad is that traditionally most of is as black people seem to be been happy and content with low standards, consoled ourselves with such statements, and our people have been left at the bottom of the poverty bowl while others move ahead. Why would any people accept what is happening now where even the rich who have invested life savings in homes don't even have electricity! What kind of humans are we?
An estimated 90% of small businesses close down within a year or two! This tells you that "no place ibi cool" (as our brother Nigerians say). It takes lots of effort to think and put food on the table and employ others.
What every nation needs is a government that helps in this effort and not one simply interested in collecting increasing taxes and duties and levies! Ghana collects ten times more taxes and duties than our neighboring countries and yet economically Togo and Cote d'Ivoire have 3-4 times less inflation rate than Ghana. Where did we in Ghana go wrong?
Simple: our public sector is sucking the blood of the nation! And they are not delivering services required of them!
In Ghana today reports indicate Politics is known to be one of the fastest tracks to riches, as deputy Minister Victoria Hammah made it clear and open, and unfortunately for her, she was taped and hence got fired out of embarrassment for the system. Any man or woman can endear himself or herself to the politics of the day and the machinery that be, and in a few years he/she could be swimming in a pool of money - either from contract deals or simply from allowances for meeting attendance in Ghana or travel and other allowances for housing, office and petrol. Ever wonder why most Ministers are reported to have travelled when you need to see them?
Citizens don't even know the offices and phone contact numbers of elected representatives and yet the taxpayers have to pay for their offices, phones, houses, vehicles and petrol! Does this constitute the kind of democracy the people opted and aspired for?
And is the representative body even able to deliver water, electricity, sewage systems and decent health care services and schools for our people?
Is that what the educated Ghanaian aspires to? - to be given a government job where they cannot even name streets and number houses, and watch as every institution such as even the Post Office is breaking down but they collect their emoluments estimated $200,000 to $500,000 annually in brown envelopes? Is it right to call that public thievery or not?
Let me state here that nobody is denying MPs and the Speaker and Ministers the right to drive fancy expensive vehicles and wear fancy suits. All we are saying is that they should earn it!
Why should men who before Parliament could not afford a $40,000 cars be provided $80,000 cars and why should our representatives be making 20-40 times the income of Medical doctors and Nurses saving lives! Why! And these Executive pay beyond the base salaries on the books are given in cash, in brown envelopes and taxes are not being paid on them!
Is it not therefore justified when some call this public thievery, like a small organized criminal gang reaping where they have not sowed?
People in the private sector are human beings also and they are forced to pay additional 50-100% imposed taxes and duties on all the imported goods such as clothing, shoes, drugs, toothpaste and soap, cell phones, computers and even cars and trucks they purchase!
And don't ever forget most of these items were being made in Ghana in the Nkrumah days! Even if Socialism was wrong why didn't those who rejoiced in his removal convert SOE factories to private and use the capital obtained as a Venture capital fund to help small business development?
So please don't say the Ghanaian is not paying his fair share of taxes! How about the public sector cutting back!! Ghana does not need but say 10 Ministers and maximum 5 MPs for each of the 10 regions. Public sector simply has become too much and it is better to assist individuals to set up their own businesses and employ others than continue on a path where most people work for the government and yet nothing gets accomplished!
Government agency services are very poor and no Minister seems to know how to monitor performance! Employees demand bribery and cannot register land, cannot deliver simple identification documents such as passport, cannot deliver mail to homes, cannot design and build new roads and cannot plan and deliver electricity for the people! WHAT IS THE USE OF GOVERNMENT, THEN?
It is time President Mahama seriously sat down to think and plan the nation of Ghana!! Failing that the man should resign and save the nation. Our cultural arrogance and closed-mindedness to learn new ideas and resistance to change in the public sector is affecting all the people. It has brought Ghana to a level of disgrace today at the global level instead of being the shiny black star nation we started out to be in the 1960s.
We should redesign government and cut back employees, provide assistance to laid off employees and the private sector to create jobs, and monitor effectiveness of our government with published indicators such as dates services are requested and provided. Nobody should be paid simply because they have a government job - from the President and his staff down to the messenger and cleaner!
Let everybody deserve what they are paid for and nobody take from public coffers more than they put in. Period!
Kwaku A. Danso, PhD
President- Ghana Leadership Union,Inc (NGO)
Moderator- GLU Forum