Members of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) have called on the leadership of the organisation to reject portions of government’s 2023 budget statement which they described as “inimical to the welfare of workers.”
They cited the freeze on employment in the public and civil services, removal of threshold on Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy), tax waivers for businesses in agricultural imports, increase of VAT by 2.5 per cent, among others, as some of the portions that should be rejected.
The members were speaking in Accra yesterday at a Post Budget Forum organised by the TUC in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Foundation.
Edward Kareweh, General Secretary of the General Agriculture Workers Union (GAWU), said the details of the 2023 budget showed that it was not prepared to address the country’s economic challenges but to obtain a deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
He indicated that the budget did not state any policy direction targeted at encouraging large scale agriculture to ensure food security and create jobs.
He questioned why the government chose to freeze employment in the public and civil service when social protection programmes to support livelihoods were yet to achieve the intended targets.
Mr Kareweh said the government’s decision to remove the threshold on e-levy was ill-advised as the poor would no longer be protected from losing their income.
The budget, he stated, also failed to outline policies to check high importation that had contributed in stifling local production and consumption.
General Secretary of the Public Sector Workers Union (PSWU), Bernard Adjei, attributed the government’s low revenue to its failure to explore different revenue sources.
He charged the government to take advantage of digitalisation in addressing revenue mobilisation leakages.
He also chided the Bank of Ghana (BoG) for printing money to finance government’s expenditure, resulting in increased inflation and cost of living in the country.
Michael Angmor, Acting General Secretary of the National Union of Seamen, Ports and Allied Workers (NUSPAW), said the 2.5 per cent upward review of the VAT to 15 per cent from 12.5 per cent would intensify the hardship Ghanaians were facing.
To cushion Ghanaians, he said, the government should have rather considered reviewing it and other levies downwards to maximise the income of workers.
Dr Yaw Baah, Secretary General of TUC, said, Ghanaian workers were currently facing harsh conditions saying that the TUC was pushing for about 60 per cent salary increment to include various allowances such as the Cost of Living Allowance (COLA).
He noted that the crisis had erased the trust of Ghanaians in the government and called for collaboration between government and all stakeholders in dealing with the challenges.
“Ghana has suffered such crisis before. We’ve gone through hell before. I can assure you we can resolve it.
This is the time we have to come together to solve this problem and get our nation out of the mess,” he stated.
Dr Baah expressed worry over the freeze of employment in the public and civil service saying it would negatively impact on public service delivery.
He said the TUC would, within the week, come out with its position on the budget statement after consultations with all the members.