The Government of Ghana and its social partners would soon engage unions and key stakeholders in discussions on unemployment and insurance benefits for Ghanaians.
Discussions will also focus on training and retraining workers, extending the moratorium on the payment of income and corporate taxes, and pragmatism in labor administration and enforcement.
This was announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during this year’s Workers’ Day celebration at Black Star Square in Accra on Sunday.
The move is part of broader efforts to address the effects of the massive job losses and labor market disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and to protect the jobs and incomes of Ghanaians.
May Day this year was marked under the theme: “Protecting Jobs and Incomes in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond”.
The President noted that the labor market disruptions occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic had led governments, including that of Ghana, to implement unprecedented measures to mitigate the effects on their economies.
He pointed out that at the beginning of the pandemic, when public sector workers in other countries lost their jobs or received reduced salaries, his government continued to pay the salaries of public sector workers without any reduction and ensured that that no one loses his job. work.
President Akufo-Addo, who acknowledged that the country was going through difficult times, said the government, however, had not thrown up its hands in desperation and was not looking for the easy way out.
“On the contrary, we are working hard to address the current challenges facing the economy and those that relate to improving the quality of life of all Ghanaians. I will be the first to admit that conditions of service in the wider public service need to be improved. However, this should be done within budgetary constraints to ensure that we do not put undue pressure on our public finances,” he said.
Regarding workers’ compensation, the president said that the government had spent GH¢31.7 billion to pay compensation for employees in terms of wages and salaries, pensions, gratuities and social security in 2021.
“This was paid out of tax revenue of GH¢56.5 billion. Thus, the payment of compensation for 700,000 public sector employees alone absorbed 56% of tax revenue in 2021.
“This ratio is well above the ECOWAS threshold of 35% and above the Sub-Saharan African average of 43%,” he added.
The President pointed out that tax revenue had not been sufficient to meet commitments for compensation, interest payments and statutory funds, and that the government had had to resort to non-tax revenue and borrowing to be able to meet these obligations.
“It shows how rigid the budget is and how little or limited fiscal space there is.
He said the government had worked with the tripartite social partners in the past to address these issues, and “we will need your support, now more than ever, as we move forward”.
“I urge all of us to work hard to increase productivity so that we can increase wage levels and provide the basis for paying a ‘living wage,'” he told workers.