Browsing Tag

UTAG

News

UTAG strike undermined teaching and learning – Mahama bemoans

Former President John Mahama has underscored the need to invest more resources in the education sector, highlighting some shortfalls under the Akufo-Addo administration.

Featuring prominently in his critique was the recent strike by the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG)—an industrial action which lasted two months.

Speaking on the prolonged absence of lectures in universities, Mr. Mahama said during the NDC event themed, ‘Ghana at a crossroads’ that the strike “had an adverse effect on teaching and learning.”

The lecturers were demanding better conditions of service and for government to honour previous promises made to them.

UTAG embarked on a similar action in August, 2021 but cut it short on promises from government agencies that their issues would be resolved.

However, the Association withdrew their services again in January, 2022 after its concerns went unaddressed.

The lecturers returned to class after further promises from government and judicial orders directing them to call off the strike.

Scores of university students who spoke to JoyNews during the strike bemoaned lack of funds to support their prolonged stay on campus due to the strike and final year students told the media about their challenges with completing their project works.

Mr Mahama, speaking at a National Democratic Congress (NDC) event, on Monday, also observed that delays in releasing funds to high schools across the country have adversely affected the implementation of the Free SHS programme.

Besides that, he also condemned the delay in payment of allowances to teacher trainees. Mr Mahama also accused the government of mismanaging GETFund monies.

News

Full text: Ghana at a Crossroads – A presentation by John Mahama

Comrades, ladies, gentlemen, my brothers and sisters. Thank you for making time to join me, tonight, those here in person, and the millions from across our beloved country and the world, via the power of information and communication technology.

Some of you may not know this but I loved and studied history all the way to university level and one of the books that absolutely enthralled me was a book titled “Makers of Civilisation.”

In that book you will find many figures from the past – men and women whose names have been written in letters of gold and who have been immortalized; remembered through the ages. Some of these celebrated historical icons were artists, physicians, engineers, philosophers, military figures, kings, pastors who changed the world by boldly stepping out and challenging the status quo.

In the spirit of May Day and the celebration of workers, I say Ayekoo to us all, for our continuous contribution to the success of this country and its development. Just like the past, there are many gallant workers of today whose stories would have regaled and inspired us if told.

If there was ever any doubt, we know from history that you are the people who make our society and our nation what it is. We must join hands to ensure that we restore our nation on the path to prosperity and opportunity for all our people.

We have always sang the first stanza of our national anthem, which asks for God’s blessings on our homeland Ghana and enjoins us to resist oppressors’ rule. Many have not taken the time to observe the second stanza of our national anthem. The lyrics bear reflection:

Hail to thy name, O Ghana,

To thee we make our solemn vow:

Steadfast to build together,

A nation strong in Unity,

With our gifts of mind and strength of arm,

Whether night or day, in mist or storm,

In every need, whate’er the call may be,

To serve thee, O Ghana, now and evermore.

This stanza calls for a nation strong in unity and enjoins us with our gift of mind and strength of arm to serve our motherland Ghana, now and evermore.

This is a call to service to our motherland, a call requiring that every one of us, regardless of background, religion, ethnicity, profession, political orientation, economic status, age or gender unite while offering the gifts of our mind and strength of our arm.

Sitting on the fence is not an option in nation building. History will not remember us kindly if we accept the gradual degradation of our society and do not make an attempt to inspire ourselves to make a difference in our generation.

A NATION AT THE CROSSROADS

Countrymen and women, Ghana our dear nation is at a Crossroads, and we must tarry a while and reflect deeply on the road that we must take. The wrong choice leads us down an easy path of chaos and destruction. The right choice would lead us up a path of prosperity and dignity, but with hard work and sacrifice.

My countrymen and women, I can assure you that as our forebears did in the past, if we come together – united as one – there is no task that will be insurmountable.

The future is bright if we rebuff those who seek to divide us for their personal gain, and if we open the opportunities of our country to all our citizens irrespective of ethnicity, political affiliation, age or gender.

Thirty years have passed since President Jerry John Rawlings of blessed memory, appended his signature to the newly drafted Constitution of 1992, which made an irrevocable commitment to a return to democratic rule and constitutional governance.

In the period preceding that moment, which set in motion what has turned out to be the most stable and enduring period of governance in our history, we have plunged from the heights of the Black Star of Africa. From the lofty ambitions of the post-independence era, to the depths of economic catastrophe, institutional decay, corruption, and despondency.

Our life as a nation had been checkered with multiple governance experiments alternating between civilian and military administrations. The several starts and stops led to a situation where, by the 1980s, our circumstance seemed intractable.

The economy was in complete shamble and growing negatively. There appeared no way out of the stranglehold of poverty and despair, and we teetered on the brink of national collapse.

After a decade of stabilization by the then PNDC regime, which involved confronting and overcoming such problems as economic recession, hyper-inflation, prolonged droughts, devastating bush fires, shortage of basic commodities among other serious socio-economic problems, it became clear enough, that the broad masses of the Ghanaian people yearned for a return to democratic governance.

Thus, began the process to fulfil their genuine aspirations through a participatory and inclusive approach. The product of that process, the 1992 constitution, ushered in the fourth republic and set us apart from our peers in the sub-region as having, perhaps, the most advanced democracy in West Africa and one of the very best in Africa.

The constitution itself was a remarkable piece of work that contained elaborate provisions, which captured and guaranteed the fundamental human rights of all Ghanaians including those of speech and association.

It had extensive provisions on media freedoms and offered directive principles of state policy around which governance was to be conducted. The constitution also laid down a governance framework which emphasized checks and balances with the creation of independent state institutions with clear mandates to work towards the consolidation of democratic governance and the protection of rights.

And best of all, it was a constitution drawn up by the mass of our people – including teachers, nurses, fishermen, farmers, security personnel, butchers, traders, hairdressers through a consultative assembly.

With democratic governance fully restored, we surged forward together in the journey of nationhood with the hope and aspiration that the misfortunes of our past were well and truly behind us and that the tentative steps we took then would ultimately deliver the progress we desired.

Thirty years after these events, Ghana stands at a crossroads!

A BROKEN SOCIAL CONTRACT

Since the first elections were held under the fourth republic some thirty years ago, there have been three changes in governments. Each of these changes has been heralded by expectations of better governance leading to tangible improvements in the socio-economic conditions of our people.

The NPP government came into office in January 2017 on the back of mouthwatering promises of almost instant transformation of our country amid countless slogans. President Akufo-Addo did promise to change Ghana in eighteen (18) months if voted for. Yes, he promised to turnaround the fortunes of Ghana and create opportunities for all and take care of everyone in 18 months.

A significant number of our citizens associated the promises with good and noble intentions. In return, and despite our best efforts, the Ghanaian people offered the NPP a clear mandate to steer the affairs of our dear country.

An assessment of our current conditions shows that what is happening now bears very little or no resemblance to what was promised. There is a sharp disparity between promise and practice.

Today, most Ghanaians feel they were hoodwinked, and this is manifesting in their personal livelihood and their daily struggles.

Perhaps, the most defining challenge of our time is making the economy work for everybody. Over the last several months, our political space and societal reaction has been dominated by discussions on the challenges with introducing more taxation.

These conversations have been against the backdrop of unparalleled cronyism and nepotism, breaches of the basic tenets of conflict of interest, transparency and accountable governance, and misplaced spending priorities by the President and his inner circle.

On top of these is the subjugation of independent constitutional bodies to the whims and caprices of the President and his cronies. The painful epiphany is that in Ghana today, the frustrations of the Ghanaian people are at an all-time high.

We are well and truly at a crossroads! A crossroads that is acutely complicated by the doubt and the fear experienced by the next generations, that they face a future that carries no expectation of success in their lives.

For most Ghanaians, the feeling of despondency and hopelessness is real and personal. It is exacerbated by a dangerous trend of growing inequality and lack of upward social and economic mobility in addition to a calculated effort at constraining social justice.

Interestingly, the condescending responses from government officials to public complaints have often accentuated the frustration and anger of the people.

A government bereft of ideas has resorted to incarceration of critical voices, name calling of the citizens, and unfair categorisation of the labour force and huge numbers of unemployed youth as lazy and underserving. Worse of all, the government has been using chaotic shouts and insincere technical analysis laden with dubious comparisons and outright untruths to manage the narratives.

Another worrying trend is the bastardisation of independent constitutional bodies, obfuscating their objectivity and introducing deliberate constraints on their ability to act independently and in accordance with their mandate.

This deliberate strategy has resulted in heavily politically coloured and conflicted persons assuming positions within such institutions, alongside the swift dismissal of persons who have dared to act in an independent and fair manner. The Domelevo’s of our time.

The cumulative effect of these travesties on this crossroads that Ghana has reached, is unparalleled shambolism and lack of substantive accountability in the management of national affairs.

ECONOMIC MISMANAGEMENT AND HARDSHIPS

On the economic front, Nana Addo and the NPP pledged to transform Ghana within 18 months, grow our economy at double digit, reduce borrowing, ensure fiscal discipline, bring down the cost of living, lower taxes and protect the public purse. They promised to move Ghana “from taxation to production.”

In effect, none of these has been achieved. Instead, Ghanaians have been subjected to excruciating hardships and deprivation resulting directly from the mismanagement of the economy by a government that lacks the humility to accept responsibility, and the capacity to appropriately diagnose the root causes of the challenges that have brought us here.

Rather, they constantly seek to impose on us, their version of the economic reality – denying that food prices have gone up; insisting that the business climate is favourable; virulently protesting the evidence that their investments in meaningful capital expenditure is insignificant; and ignoring glaring evidence of unprecedented levels of corruption and breaches of internationally acclaimed standards of social justice.

This government contests even the most basic and glaring set of facts. This should never have been the case for a government that has been fortunate to receive far more resources in the last five years than almost all governments before them under the fourth republic, put together.

At the last reckoning, over GH¢ 500 billion had been available to them through taxes, grants, borrowing and other sources of revenue. No government in our recent history has been that fortunate.

Despite this fortune, today, the Ghanaian economy ranks among the worst managed in the world. It is characterized by unsustainable public debt due to an unprecedented fiscal deficit, comparatively high and still rising inflation, a rapidly depreciating currency, spiraling cost of doing business, ever rising cost of living, high levels of corruption, abuse of civil and human liberties, and a general loss of investor confidence. Simply put, our country is on the verge of bankruptcy.

In spite of the firm promise to reduce borrowing, this government has increased our public debt to almost GH¢ 380 billion as of the end of the first quarter of 2022. This is more than three times the debt of all governments since the days of Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah up to January 2017.

A direct consequence of this astronomical borrowing is that our debt service obligation per annum has increased by 500% from GH¢10 billion in 2016 to about GH¢50 billion now. We are at great risk of defaulting on our debt repayments unless something drastic is done.

To be clear, despite the heavy politicisation of debt by the current administration while in opposition, the real problem we face is not just because of the daunting large size of the debt value. Rather it is the stark reality that these huge levels of borrowing have not gone into infrastructure and capital investment but have been applied, largely, to consumption, and in some cases even misapplied.

This heavy borrowing has not been met by a commensurate and significant improvement in the size of the economy to ease repayment of the debt in future.

My brothers and sisters, an important and yet very disturbing variable, often ignored in our national discourse about the debt situation, is the corresponding ballooning of government indebtedness to local businesses and other statutory bodies including SOEs.

These issues must occupy an important space within national discourse because our estimation is that government’s liabilities to local businesses and other stakeholders exceed GHC30 billion.

Arising directly from the excessive borrowing to fund consumption related expenditure is the harsh truth that, more than half of what government collects in taxes is used to service debt with the remainder going almost exclusively into public sector wages. This has created self-inflicted rigidities that leave very little space for investment in other important areas of the economy.

The effect of this, is that government is unable to meet its spending obligations in the most critical sectors of the economy on which the livelihoods of millions of our people depend.

It is little wonder therefore that out of a total of annual collection of GH¢ 2.1 billion under NHIL, as at end 2021 only GH¢ 127 million (about 6%) had been released to the Authority.

This is stifling the ability of health care providers in the private and public sectors to provide adequate care for the mass of our people.

My brothers and sisters, in the hands of a more responsible and prudent administration, the resources that have been available to this administration, should have resulted in quantum leaps in the standard of living of Ghanaians and we should have recorded major progress as a nation.

After inheriting a stable economy that was programmed and poised for rapid growth from early 2017, this government has squandered its way into a ditch from which it has become impossible to emerge without imposing even deeper hardships and suffering on Ghanaians.

The minimum expectation was that the NPP government will build on the strong foundation that had been bequeathed them and achieve incremental progress over what they met. They have instead carried out a demolition exercise of that foundation and left our economy in quicksand, sinking at an alarming rate.

However, now we know, that responsibility and prudence are not concepts that appear to be appreciated by this government.

As we speak, the cash crunch arising out of the rigidities in the economy is having a devastating toll on almost all sectors of our national life.

Take the education sector for instance.

At the basic level,

  • Capitation grants have been in arrears for nearly a year.
  • Textbooks have not been supplied to basic school pupils for three straight years

At the SHS level,

  • Lengthy delays in the release of funds have crippled the Free SHS program compelling key stakeholders like CHASS and GNAT to issue ultimatums to government
  • There have been widespread reports of food shortages and nutrition deficient, poor quality food in schools across the country and,
  • The academic calendar has become erratic due to non-availability of funds to run the schools

At the tertiary level,

  • UTAG recently ended a protracted strike action to call on government to honour its commitment on salary rationalization and better conditions of service. The UTAG strike severely undermined teaching and learning on our various campuses
  • College of Education students have spent more time at home than in school because of the lack of funds and;
  • Trainee allowances have been in arrears for several months amidst threats by school authorities to shift the cost of feeding unto students in the absence of timely release of funds by government.

The government’s mismanagement of the GETFund has not helped matters in the education sector.

Similar liquidity challenges permeate all sectors of the economy. Elsewhere, the District Assemblies Common Fund still stands in arrears of several quarters – endangering our accumulated mileage in local government administration.

LEAP beneficiaries who depend on a very meagre quarterly stipends for survival have also in recent times been denied access to these payments for many months, condemning them to intense and perilous hardships.

As I said earlier, NHIS service providers are owed several months arrears and are sparingly paid for their service. This is due to the illegal diversion or misapplication of attributable funds.

Related to this is the reckless collateralisation of various funds to satisfy current consumption needs, and worse of all is the government’s express desire to collateralise more of such funds:

  • They have collateralized ESLA till 2035,
  • They have collateralized almost GH¢10 billion of GETFUND revenue through the 7-year Daakye bond and
  • After mortgaging all the family property, they are desirous of selling off the remaining family cutlery by collateralizing our mineral Revenue through the dubious Agyapa Deal.
  • And it is expected that they are in the process of collateralising the revenues from the recently implemented E-levy.

Countrymen and women, yesterday at the May Day address, the President stated that it is not possible to remove taxes off petroleum products because it will result in an inability to pay public sector wages. What he did not tell workers was that some of those taxes cannot be removed because they have been collateralized and the money has already been spent.

ESLA when it was introduced had a 5-year lifespan to pay down legacy energy sector debts. Today ESLA cannot be removed as a petroleum tax because this government has spent the money upfront and has collateralised ESLA till 2035.

This entirely unwholesome practice of concealing debt through the collateralization of statutory funds for the contraction of loans must be curtailed. Hidden debts have never helped anyone let alone a nation.

Hidden debts will catch up with you as it has the effect of increasing the public debt while creating a false sense of security because those debts ostensibly sit on the books of state-owned enterprises or special purpose vehicles.

For example, whereas the Bank of Ghana in its latest Summary of Economic and Financial Data pegs our public debt at GHS 351.8 billon with a debt to GDP ratio of 80.1% at the end of 2021, the actual debt stood at GH¢362 billion when you factor into the equation, debts sitting in the names of GETFund, ESLA, and Sinohydro.

Thankfully, the strong will of the people, civil society and the NDC legislators applied the brakes to the Agyapa Deal. We must be determined to defeat the Agyapa Deal if they resurrect it – This can only be the actions of an ‘Agya boni’ and not an ‘Agya pa’.

This grim economic situation has inevitably caught the attention of the global investor community and rating agencies leading to a total loss of confidence in our economy.

Due to this loss of confidence – confirmed by our worst ever downgrade from reputable rating agencies, such as Fitch and Moody’s – we have been shut out of the international bond market since October last year and are set to remain shut out for the whole of 2022 unless the economic outlook improves significantly.

The resulting panic reaction – from the grim economic reality, the mixed and conflicting messages and outright untruths from government actors – has led to significant capital flight by businesses and international actors within our domestic bond market. And has complicated confidence in an already precarious banking sector that suffered the misfortune of the politically motivated collapse of some of our locally owned banks and financial institutions.

It is estimated that about US$200 million in capital flight occurred in January 2022 alone and the Central bank lost about US$687.6 million in net international reserves between November and December 2021.

This also accounts for the steep depreciation of the cedi since the beginning of this year. Based on this trend and the absence of a credible and innovative plan to stem its fall, some Financial Institutions and analysts have projected that the cedi would end 2022 at GHS 8 or above to the dollar. And almost GH¢ 10 or above to the pound sterling, with fuel prices likely to exceed the GH¢ 10 mark.

Another devastating consequence of the massive fall of the cedi is that it would cause a significant increase in our public debt even without further borrowing. This also means debt servicing will increase beyond the budgeted amount and worsen the rigidities that exist in the 2022 budget.

Moreover, inflation has risen from 8% in March 2021 to 15.7% in February 2022 and to 19.4% in March 2022 – the highest in 13 years, since 2009. There is a genuine concern that inflation could rise even further when the passthrough effect of fuel price increases among others starts to take hold.

This coupled with taxes are fast eroding the disposable incomes of households and has made life simply unbearable for majority of Ghanaians. Compounding the economic hardships, is the ever-looming danger posed by the youth bulge – the unemployment crisis.

Data from the Ghana Statistical Service indicates that our nation is not only experiencing a rise in inflation, but also an all-time high unemployment rate of 13.4 %.

This means millions of young people are wasting away their most productive years in abject disillusionment as the Akufo-Addo and Bawumia government continues to pay lip service to the tragic unemployment menace.

Unemployment is leading to social deviance with a significant uptick in armed robbery, kidnapping, fraud, scamming and ritual murders.

Millions of Ghanaian youth with higher education, are trapped in the situation of a permanent purgatory with no clear indication that they can obtain gainful employment before they turn 60 years and retire from unemployment. Yet the President continues to fritter away the taxpayer’s precious money on luxurious chartered flight and other wasteful engagements.

The resort to ad hoc measures has failed to address the problem – once again, it bears saying that Ghana is at a crossroads – and this current administration has no credible solution at hand.

We proposed a number of initiatives that are still very much the solutions Ghana should implement to help tackle the problem of unemployment – the one million Edwuma Pa Jobs Creation Plan, and the free TVET combined with the National Apprenticeship Programme as contained in our 2020 manifesto.

I repeat that Government can draw on them for implementation because we can create an average of 250,000 jobs every year for the young people of Ghana as we make Ghana a 24-hour economy – three shifts of 8-hours each a day.

We must and the NDC will always support the private sector in various forms to enable them grow and expand their earnings and job openings. A stimulus package, like what we provided to pharmaceutical manufacturing companies in the past must be rolled out to other processing and manufacturing sectors.

Our vision behind the establishment of the Ghana EXIM Bank and the Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund should not be lost.

LEADERSHIP THAT TAKES NO RESPONSIBILITY

In times of anguish and deep national crisis as we are presently witnessing, a convincing and credible response is required from leadership.

The constitutional order we chose for ourselves three decades ago has the immutable principle of accountability as one of its most enduring pillars. Accountability requires those who have the privilege to lead, to periodically render an account of their stewardship.

Since 1993, every President of Ghana, including myself have delivered the message on the state of the nation to Parliament.

It is important for our democracy, which the framers of our Constitution envisaged as the occasion on which the President delivers to the people – the governed – a truthful, principled, and transparent appraisal of the state of the nation, its achievements, and challenges.

This year’s rendition of the address took on an added significance, given the obvious economic distress and widespread hardship that now pervades our nation.

A few weeks ago, President Akufo-Addo performed this constitutional duty and in view of the challenging economic circumstances that now face the citizenry, especially, the poor and the vulnerable, we had all looked forward to an address in which a truthful, objective, and transparent appraisal of the national situation would be presented to the nation.

The occasion offered scope and a unique opportunity for the President to address in concrete terms, the most pressing concerns of the people in these times and rally the nation for the purpose of extricating our vehicle of state from the ditch into which he has led us.

We had hoped that the widespread hardship and suffering that Ghanaians are experiencing in these difficult times will be duly acknowledged, and responsibility taken for the arrogant missteps, wrong policy choices and mismanagement that are mainly responsible for our current situation.

Instead, and rather unfortunately, we were fed the same litany of buck-passing, denial, and nonchalance that the people of Ghana have been served by this President and his government over the last five years. Nothing is ever their fault.

The President’s spirited effort to paint a rosy picture amid national anguish and despair was most disconcerting and gave the clearest indication yet, that the President and his government have fallen prey to the phenomenon of gaslighting!

It is apparent, that those to whom we have entrusted the leadership of this country are yet to grasp the stark reality of our national situation.

As was manifest in his State of the Nation Address, President Akufo-Addo and his Head of the Economic Management Team (EMT), have sought to shirk and deflect responsibility for the economic mismanagement that has led to these hardships and national economic meltdown.

In the specific case of the Head of the Economic Management Team, who loquaciously postured as the gold standard for economic management while in opposition, we have continued to note his present flight from economic discourse even as the economy tipped into a tailspin.

The issues of debt, taxation and depreciation of the currency which rolled off his tongue in his overzealous and misplaced narratives against the erstwhile NDC administration has become taboo words for him, until an avalanche of public criticism and demands forced him a few weeks ago, to make a pitiful torrent of unconvincing excuses for the disastrous mismanagement of the economy.

A LITANY OF EXCUSES

The list of excuses offered by this government for the economic mess keeps growing by the day. When it has been convenient, COVID-19 has been made the scapegoat and has been blamed for our woes. The Russian-Ukraine war has also featured prominently on the excuses list as have the so-called financial sector clean-up and supposed excess capacity payments in the energy sector.

My brothers and sisters, none of these claims are acceptable.

THE COVID-19 EXCUSE

The facts reveal that while no one can run away from its impact on the global economy, the COVID-19 pandemic paved way for the Government of Ghana to receive an unprecedented windfall that previous governments could only dream off.

Over GHS 30 billion, sufficient to plug the revenue shortfall of GHS 12 billion anticipated for 2020, was made available to this Government from various sources. The funding sources ranged from our development partners to internal buffers like the Stabilization Fund which was set up by an NDC administration, and other generous donors. Namely:

  • 1 billion USD facility from the IMF,
  • 200 million USD from the Stabilization Fund,
  • 430 million USD from the World Bank,
  • 400 million USD out of the 1 billion USD SDR provided to BOG,
  • Over 100 million from AfDB and bilateral partners,
  • 20 billion Ghana Cedis from the BOG

Being a pandemic, COVID-19 affected almost every country on earth including our West African neighbours with who we share similar economic characteristics.

Yet, these neighboring countries such as Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, Guinea, Nigeria, Liberia, Senegal, and Sierra Leone, have emerged from this pandemic comparatively unscathed and with relatively stronger fundamentals as compared to ours.

Ghana has incurred and recorded astronomical double-digit budget deficits and huge public debts than our West African peers.

Long before COVID-19, it was evident that the economy was being mismanaged. I cautioned against the mismanagement. By 2019, our deficit and debt figures had already reached distress levels. This is a fact which was recently corroborated by the World Bank through its country representative in Ghana.

Unprofessionally, the real figures were always grossly understated under the guise of “appendices, memorandum and below the line items” in our budgets. It is this creative accounting and cooking the books deliberately done in a bid to conceal the true extent of our economic problems that has eventually caught up with this government.

Instead of making judicious use of the resources obtained because of COVID to cushion Ghanaians against the disease and spending strategically to stimulate people-centred economic recovery, the Akufo-Addo administration saw this windfall as an avenue for wasteful expenditure and a conduit for unmerited electoral success.

The people of Ghana demand an independent forensic audit into how the COVID-19 monies were spent.

THE RUSSIAN UKRAINIAN CONFLICT EXCUSE

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict cannot possibly be responsible for the suffering Ghanaians are going through. The suffering predates the war. Before this conflict, our currency had been depreciating and was impacting negatively on fuel and commodity prices in our markets. Fuel prices had gone up on more than forty different occasions since 2017 before the Russian-Ukrainian conflict started.

THE FINANCIAL SECTOR BAILOUT EXCUSE

The about GHS 25 billion which the government claims to have spent on the financial sector clean-up was a conscious policy decision made without due regard to superior alternatives like bailing out those banks with far less money, recovering assets and holding the people responsible for the mismanagement of the banks to rigorous account, through due process.

It was the NDC government that conducted the Asset Quality Review which determined that the banks in question were in distress. We then proceeded to pass appropriate enabling legislation to give the force of law to the actions that were deemed necessary to address the situation.

The laws included the Banks and Specialized Deposit Taking Institutions Act (Act 930) and the Ghana Deposit Protection Act (Act 931). Our objectives had always been to: avoid the collapse of these banks; to preserve and strengthen Ghanaian presence and participation in the Financial Sector which we viewed as a strategic economic objective; protect depositors’ investments; and protect the jobs of tens of thousands of employees of the banks.

The total cost of our bail-out plan was estimated at a maximum of GHS 9 billion. This was going to be recovered in due course when the Banks had been returned to sound management and profitability. But the outcome of the 2016 elections hampered our ability to fully implement this plan.

The logical expectation was that this government would continue from where we left off. But they chose to go for the nuclear option. They collapsed indigenous Ghanaian banks, some of which had been built from the hard work of our citizens and from scratch and had existed for decades and opted to pay depositors to the tune of GH¢25 billion.

Doubts however remain about the accuracy of this figure given that the Bank of Ghana reports only GH¢ 16 billion in its Summary of Economic and Financial Data.

A government that decides to spend a colossal GH¢25 billion on a GH¢ 9 billion problem and actively seeks political plaudits for same, cannot turn around and pass it off as reason for the current economic crisis.

THE EXCESS CAPACITY PAYMENTS EXCUSE

The claim that GH¢17 billion has been spent on excess capacity payments in the energy sector and that it has contributed to the economic crisis is clearly untrue.

To mislead Ghanaians into accepting this dubious narrative, this government has deliberately peddled untruths about our power generation capacity and its evolution.

They have claimed that the NDC government added power generation capacity that we did not need and that due to ‘Take or Pay’ clauses in the power contracts, they have been forced to pay US$1 billion to Independent Power Producers (IPP) every year, since 2017.

The truth is that, in the NDC’s 2012 Manifesto which formed the basis for our election and mandate to govern between 2013 and 2017, we made a clear promise to ramp up our power generation capacity which at the time hovered around 2500MW, to 5000MW by 2016.

We were determined to meet demand which was growing exponentially and to resolve the recurring power deficit that led to crippling power rationing under all governments since the fourth republic began in 1993.

We followed through with this promise and expanded generation capacity with the completion of the Karpower and Ameri Plants. We also commenced work on the Cenpower, AKSA, Amandi and Early Power plants. By 2020, these plants had taken our generation capacity above 5000 MW in line with our objectives.

As we speak, available data shows that total installed power generation capacity is 5,367MW. Out of this, only a little above 3,861MW is actually available and can be relied on.

Countrymen and women, as an illustration, on March 18, 2022, our peak demand climbed to 3,469 MW which means that only about 392 MW excess capacity existed to be relied upon if any of the plants had broken down that day.

This 392MW falls far short of the 18% excess margin (about 695 MW) which the energy commission recommends Ghana should have to keep the system running safely.

In plain terms, this means that now, we do not have sufficient power to meet peak demand and have adequate reserve margin to meet any emergency. This, in turn, means that we stand the real risk of suffering crippling power rationing if any of the available plants should develop major faults.

What, therefore, is the basis for the often-repeated claims of excess capacity for which we are told US$1 billion is paid to IPPs annually? Exactly where is that excess capacity considering the facts, I have shared with you?

Put to strict proof under Parliamentary scrutiny, the Finance Minister disclosed only last year, that US$937 million had been paid in total for excess capacity from 2017 to 2020.

It is inconceivable that any leader in these times of crisis and hardships would seek to shirk responsibility, absolve himself of blame and fail woefully to show leadership.

It is the duty of leaders to acknowledge problems, take responsibility and move swiftly to address them as I did when confronted with the power challenges in my time.

I could have conveniently blamed the age-old underinvestment in the energy sector, but I was acutely aware that Ghanaians did not elect me to complain and blame others for problems, so I moved to fix it. And I fixed it.

President Akufo-Addo and his Head of the Economic Management Team must imbibe this key leadership attribute of taking responsibility especially in circumstances where the overwhelming evidence shows that our present dire economic straits is the direct outcome of their poor economic policy choices and wasteful expenditure.

E-LEVY AND WASTE OF PUBLIC FUNDS

Governments since the 4th Republic have all invested in digital infrastructure in order to modernize our economy. In my time as President, we laid the most extensive number of kilometers of fibre optic cable and further provided 4G LTE wireless broadband in order to bring all parts of our country into the new digital revolution.

Through these investments we have created the opportunity for Ghanaians to enjoy the ease of electronics transactions. Indeed, Ghanaians have taken to the ease of electronic transactions very well.

Mobile money payments are used for remittances to parents in the villages, they are used in the markets and supermarkets to pay for groceries purchased, they are used by market women and other traders to pay for replenishing their stocks, and they are used at filling stations to pay for fuel and services.

Internet and electronic banking have made it easier to move money from account to account without the use of cheques or cash transfers. This is a positive development for our economy and represents the fastest means of shrinking the informal economy and bringing us all into the formal one.

Unfortunately, in the face of this self-inflicted economic catastrophe, this government against all sound advice has decided to introduce the E-Levy, a regressive tax that heaps more suffering on Ghanaians.

Recently our President was asked in a BBC interview, why he was choosing to tax the incomes of Ghanaians in their electronic wallets that had already been taxed. The President’s answer was that it is the newest and fastest growing sector of our economy that is not being taxed.

Clearly the President did not understand the question, or he is clueless about the regressive nature of the E-Levy. A worker gets paid in his electronic wallet. His PAYE tax has been deducted already. For every transfer or purchase above GHS100 he makes on his e-wallet, he has to pay an additional 1.5% tax.

It will now be tempting for such a person to draw cash from his e-wallet and make the payment for his groceries, fuel, entertainment, utility bills etc. all with cash.

The collection of the E-Levy began yesterday and as though a slap in the face, it began on May Day. Already there is a litany of complaints about the implementation. There are complaints of transfers of under GHS100 being subject to tax contrary to the law.

Government’s desperation to tax Ghanaians to get the nation out of the hell hole it has dumped us will not succeed because Government’s own budget proposals show that the e-levy will not make any significant contribution in resolving our problems but would exert an adverse toll on the people of Ghana.

We in the NDC do not oppose taxation as a principle. We will not be pretentious and couch fanciful slogans to condemn the principle of taxation like the NPP did in the past. We are, however, implacably opposed to distortionary and burdensome taxes like the e-levy that only force Ghanaians to endure more suffering.

A new National Democratic Congress Government, God willing and with the votes of the sovereign people of Ghana – in 2025 – will repeal the E-Levy Act.

Even as this government remains fixated with taxing their way out of economic mismanagement, the Akufo-Addo government has been wasteful. They have failed to demonstrate prudence in public financial management.

The people of Ghana cannot be called upon to pay more taxes only for the accruing money belonging to the people of Ghana, to be dubiously and wastefully shared among family and friends through various fraudulent procurement practices.

The creature comforts of the President and his officials cannot be more paramount than the need to protect the public purse and make savings that can be invested in more useful ventures. Ventures such as: education, health, and social housing for Ghanaians.

The 2020 Auditor-General’s report makes for grim reading within the context of waste and corruption in the use of public funds. The report revealed that a colossal GH¢12 billion was lost to corruption and other forms of financial malpractices in 2020 alone.

This is twice the amount that the unpopular e-levy is supposed to accrue this year. It has also recently come to light that our State-Owned Enterprises made total losses of about GH¢5.3 billion in 2020.

Another report has revealed that up to GHS 9 billion of losses was incurred by Energy Sector SOEs between 2018 and 2021.

How can the taxpayer ever be called upon to pay more when his money is going down the drain in this manner?

MISRULE AND POOR GOVERNANCE

Beyond the economic mismanagement, hardships, unemployment, and other forms of misrule exhibited by this government, are the deeply worrying issues of high-handedness, intolerance for criticism and outright abuse of the rights of citizens deemed to be critical of this administration.

In the last few years, several notable critics of this government and social activists have been subjected to unjustified arrests and prosecutions with some having already served custodial sentences.

It is obvious that this government has become edgy and jittery due to the myriad of problems it has created which have so frustrated Ghanaians and incurred their righteous indignation.

They have therefore developed hyper-sensitivity to the mildest form of criticisms and have evolved a strategy to suppress dissent by making dubious examples of some of the most prominent opposing voices in the media and political space to dissuade others from intensifying the criticism.

I have already cautioned that the penchant for unjustified arrests, detentions and prosecutions poses a grave threat to the freedoms of citizens as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution and will mar our good standing as a serious democracy.

Consequently, it comes as little surprise that Ghana’s human rights record has come under such robust scrutiny and scathing indictment in the 2021 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices released by the US State Department.

The analysis of human rights violations contained in the report constitute a major setback to the efforts to entrench freedoms and rights as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution whose 30th Anniversary we just marked last week.

For the first time under the fourth republic, eight Ghanaians were brutally gunned down during elections in 2020 by agents of the state and government and yet no action has been taken against the perpetrators.

It has been over a year since these killings took place, but the President has not taken the trouble to publicly indicate his revulsion at them or even sympathize with the bereaved families. He has refused to acknowledge these extra-judicial killings that made him President. He has also taken no clear action to hold the perpetrators to account.

These killings were preceded by similar unprovoked violent attacks on members of the opposition by militant groups operating under the aegis of this government during the Ayawaso West Wuogon bye-elections and at other times.

No Government in our recent history has demonstrated a lack of democratic temperament in dealing with issues of dissent and public criticism than the one headed by Nana Akufo-Addo.

Ghanaians have witnessed a government, which though was popularly elected, in 2016, has behaved more like a Military regime than a civilian one.

The lack of accountability, arrogance of power, human rights violations, pursuit of selective justice, muzzling of the media and critical voices, targeted collapse of opponents businesses, closure of opposition radio stations, state capture, nepotism, politicization, and deliberate undermining of the independence of state institutions among others, are all unfortunate characteristics of Nana Akufo Addo’s administration.

I believe I speak for the NDC and our MPs and Ghanaians when I say, these acts will not break our collective and patriotic resolve to hold this government to account no matter how many times they come after us. Suppression of the opposition and critical voices have never kept any government in power beyond what the people can tolerate.

It can no longer be hidden that this situation has significantly undermined public confidence and the belief of international actors in the neutrality of many state institutions including our Judiciary.

There is a prevailing perception of bias and partisanship which has not been helped by the litany of bizarre court rulings in recent times; some of which clearly defy comprehension and perceived to be designed to further the interest of the executive.

This also threatens investor confidence and our efforts to project Ghana as a viable investment destination because investors expect to have unbiased justice delivery should they require litigation.

Rather than sweeping this under the carpet, we should encourage frank debate over it with the view to building stronger institutions whose fidelity would be to the state and Ghanaians, not political parties, or appointing authorities.

SOME ALTERNATIVES

Ghana is at a crossroads and the need to institute important corrective measures cannot be overstated.

There is no shortage of solutions to our problems. It is the indolence and avid affinity of this government for a cosmetic approach to governance that has brought us here. Thus, we need far-reaching actions from the President and his Economic Management Team to resolve our challenges.

Despite the challenges I remain confident that despite the current gloom, we can turn things around and create a brighter future for ourselves. Ghana’s best days are still ahead.

  1. Those directly responsible for the economic crisis must bear responsibility and it is inconceivable that the Minister of Finance remains at post, having presided over the worst economic meltdown in Ghana’s recent history. The President must, without further delay, relieve the finance minister of his position and appoint someone who is focused on national rather than self-interest and who has the requisite skill, experience, and knowledge of public financial management in his stead. The personal benefit that the current minister and his cronies derives from borrowing on our behalf through the commissions taken by his companies who serve as transaction advisers raises an unacceptable conflict of interest situation which must end immediately.
  1. It goes without saying that the Economic Management Team, has failed and must be reconstituted immediately, with fresh ideas and perspectives. Having supervised the worst public debt buildup, the worst budget deficit, the worst debt to GDP ratio, the worst credit ratings and downgrades, the worst performing currency in the world, the worst crisis of confidence in our economy, the highest fuel prices ever, ever-rising inflation and unprecedented hardships, the current Head of the Economic Management Team (EMT) has clearly fallen from his ivory tower as a self-styled economic messiah to a poster boy for economic mismanagement and his leadership of the EMT is no longer tenable.

He has lost sight of cause and effects relationships in the economic value chain and complains that our dire economic state is due to bad ratings from international agencies, rather than the fact that our dissipating economy resulted in those bad ratings. How does that assure Ghanaians he is focused on the critical things that need addressing?

The EMT has been bedeviled by their own ineptness, over exuberance and excessive focus on linear thinking of a theoretical cause and effect relationship, devoid of the practical influences of complex real-life nuances.

In short, the EMT assumed a laboratory experimental approach, typically found in textbooks, to the extremely complex Ghanaian economy, and analysed the impact of one variable at a time.

I have often said to people, in most cases, when you are analysing the Ghanaian economy and an obvious simple solution comes to mind, THINK, THINK AND THINK again. The consequence of this lack of depth and experience complicated the problems of economic management with excessive, yet costly experimentations that did not yield viable results.

Alternatively, the President may want to consider appointing one of the many highly qualified Ghanaian public finance management experts to lead the EMT.

  1. The President must as a matter of urgency reshuffle his cabinet. More than 5 years of an administration without a major cabinet reshuffle has calcified the management of the Ministries, departments and agencies. These MDAs and SOEs have become fiefdoms in which untouchable Ministers and heads of agencies are now monarchs of all they survey. Yet they lack the energy, passion, and ideas to turn moribund situations within the MDAs around. Fresh ideas are needed. Morale is at a low in these MDAs.
  1. The seriousness of the economic meltdown must compel government to unveil a clear and workable cause of action, emanating from broad based thinking and consultation, rather than its current state of denial and wrong causal attributions. Such broad consultation must lead to a Post-COVID Economic Recovery Plan. A programme that will focus our energies on building an economy whose fruits of growth will benefit all Ghanaians and give everyone a fair chance at success. The participants of this broad-based consultation must reflect the demographic, social and economic status mix of the country.
  1. There must be a clear and measurable reduction in government expenditure. Even though this is not an easy cause of action, it is a necessary one, nonetheless. I will be the first to admit after running the economy on zero percent, 0%, Central bank financing in 2016. However, a crisis such as this requires drastic measures. I am of the view that, an open and transparent discussion of the true situation with the citizenry will help achieve this objective. The President must lead the way in the demonstration of prudence and modesty in the use of public resources.

He must put an end to the ostentation and opulence and show sensitivity and respect for Ghanaians by using the Presidential jet acquired with taxpayers’ money and stop the rental of expensive jets. Only then would he have led by the power of his example, to quote Bill Clinton, to enable Ghanaians make meaning of the sacrifices he is making to get us out of the doldrums. The extravagance must give way to frugal application of public resources. We cannot live beyond our means and expect not to fall into debt and financial ruin.

  1. Related to this, government must drastically cut and trim down its size, rationalise and bring to reasonable levels, the pay packages of CEOs of SOEs, other senior public servants and heads of state organisations. The time has come to look at the practice of providing free utilities and the allowances such as inconvenience allowance, entertainment allowance and other such innovative allowances that are crafted just as income enhancers.

The practice of setting up amorphous and poorly structured public agencies to run one-off, ad hoc policies must also stop and those already created must be merged with more established and time-tested agencies already carrying out similar functions to curtail the needless duplication and waste. There must be a real effort to plug the loopholes that facilitate the unconscionable losses of public funds incurred through financial malpractices as revealed by the Auditor-General and the losses incurred by SOEs. Strict compliance with public financial management rules and laws must be enforced.

  1. Government must limit borrowing significantly. If we all agree we are in an economic abyss, submerged under the suffocating weight of unsustainably high levels of debt and are at risk of default, then the wise thing to do is to limit borrowing. Government must as a matter of urgency issue a moratorium on all non-concessional borrowing to avoid an increase in our public debt. After the issuance of this moratorium, the dithering must stop, and very urgent steps must be taken to confront the debt problem. The stark reality is that in our current situation, it is just not possible to be servicing our debt at the present levels and have any significant resources left to meet critical expenditure obligations.

It is obvious that this government has no plan on how to handle the debt crisis. I note that Government refused to take advantage of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and the Common Platform for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI, because of the peculiar nature of Ghana’s debt profile where only about 20% is from multilateral and bilateral partners. The bulk of our debt is from the international credit market and other commercial borrowers with default triggers related to bilateral and multilateral reprieves. Government must open a discussion with the multilateral finance partners and our creditors on a debt restructuring programme which will ease our debt burden and create some fiscal space to allow expenditure in critical sectors of the economy that are currently starved of funds.

Rationalizing and enforcing strict compliance of our tax laws in areas such as the extractive sector, including a pragmatic legislation of the tax exemptions regime can help improve resources inflow. For example, a simple insistence that mining companies relay their export revenues into Ghana, as per the relevant laws, rather than keeping such funds offshore, as is the current case, can help exchange rate stability. We must achieve a national consensus on these alternatives and take proactive steps as soon as possible. The longer we tarry, the worse the situation will get.

  1. While implementing these measures, government must adequately signal to the international finance providers a clear effort at meeting future obligations. Government must commit to using some of the windfalls that we earned from the rising crude oil prices to revitalise the sinking fund in anticipation of future debt servicing. We estimate that the hikes in crude oil prices will translate into a GH¢3 billion or about US$550 million windfall for government this year. Part of this money must go into the sinking fund to build buffers for repayment of the 2025 maturing Eurobond.
  1. Government must also take immediate steps to restore credibility to the management of the economy. A contributing factor to the plummeting of investor confidence in our economy is the practice of underreporting and concealment of key economic indices like the budget deficit, public debt, and Net International Reserves. For instance, the Bank of Ghana must stop adding proceeds of the Heritage Fund and other encumbered funds like Eurobond proceeds to our Net International Reserves to create a false sense that we have more buffers than we actually do.

National data and economic indices should be a matter of fact and not subjected to needless debate and contest. We cannot be debating the factual levels of debt, reserves, inflation, kilometres of roads constructed, number of schools and hospitals built, and whether CAPEX investments should include KVIPs, metric tonnages produced of food items. Ministers must not be contesting reports and data furnished to the public from their own outfits and should not be comparing indices generated from rebased figures to figures prior to the rebasing. In effect government data must be transparent and give a true picture at all times of our national situation.

  1. In addition, government must clarify reports which are rife in the investment community that it intends to use the Heritage Fund as collateral to raise a $ 2 billion loan from a consortium of banks. We wish to serve notice that if this turns out to be true, we in then NDC will oppose it vigorously in the same was that we oppose the Agyapa deal. We cannot support the collateralization of every single source of future revenue just to finance today’s consumption. This practice will deny future governments and future generations the opportunity to benefit from revenue streams accruing from the funds which were originally intended to finance critical sectors of the economy. The Heritage Fund was set up purposely for the benefit of future generations who we cannot saddle with debt and no heritage.

To make certain that this practice doesn’t become the order of day, I would propose the enactment of legislation to stop the collateralization of statutory funds because those funds are now being abused and their original purpose are being seriously hindered.

  1. It is obvious that the assumptions underlying the projections in the 2022 budget especially regarding revenue are overambitious and are unlikely to be achieved considering all that has transpired since the presentation of the budget. Government must revert to more realistic targets and avoid creating further doubts in the minds of investors.
  1. Let me add that it is time to change the structure of our economy by allowing Ghanaians to achieve the popular General Acheampong mantra of “capturing the commanding heights of our economy.” We must increase the GNP of our country as a share of our GDP. Otherwise impressive GDP numbers are mostly the share of foreign investors and subject to repatriation at will.
  1. We must leverage our comparative advantage in agriculture by investing in agribusiness to complete the agriculture value chain in respect of marketing and processing of our agricultural products.

These are some of the interventions government must adopt in earnest. This is not the time for political posturing and display of empty pride. We are staring down the cliff of economic collapse and everyday wasted winds down the clock further.

Action needs to be taken now!

A STRONGER SOCIAL FABRIC FOR SUSTAINABLE DEMOCRACY

My brothers and sisters, aside reversing the economic decay, I wish to emphasize the need to re-weave our social fabric which is bursting at the seams now. It threatens national cohesion and our democracy as well.

The despair and disenchantment that the economic and social problems have created within our people cannot and should not be underestimated. There are many in our country today, who question the relevance and usefulness of the democratic path we chartered thirty years ago. They see too little progress or hope to convince them that democracy of the sort we are practicing is worth the effort.

I am an unrepentant believer in democracy, and I hold that it is the only viable path to nation building. Disruptions of the constitutional order cannot be an option and would rather worsen a dire situation, but I am also pragmatic enough to realize that mere rhetoric and exhortations about democracy no longer give our people hope, particularly our young people who are desperately searching for jobs or the young families out there whose mortgage plans have been disrupted because the dollar has arrested the cedi. What threatens them must threaten us and jolt us into solution mode.

Of course, I know they also have a responsibility as citizens towards national development, but I also appreciate from my interactions with them that, they do not expect government to solve all their problems. They are not unreasonable!

Therefore, we as political leaders must demonstrate through our deeds that the struggle to restore democratic rule those three decades ago and the flame of hope that was lit in our people has not been in vain. We must restore confidence in the democratic path. We can, if we carry out extensive reforms in our political and governance system and deliver the goods and services they yearn for. This is the way to go so that even in times of crisis, they still see a silver lining at the edge of the clouds. And can wait out the hard times assured that effective and responsive leadership will work in their best interest.

The political elite in Ghana are taking Ghanaians for granted and are governing and using resources in a manner that suggests personal benefit rather overrides national collective benefit. Under no circumstance must personal benefit override national benefit.

The time has come to adopt bold and radical measures to carry our people along so we can win back their trust and confidence to manage the affairs of the state with dedication and sacrifice.

After thirty years of operation, the young people of Ghana expect us to carry out a comprehensive review of our constitution and governance system. They expect a strengthened fight against corruption and waste. They expect modesty and frugality on the part of our leaders. They expect humility and respect from those who lead us.

In the meantime, this current administration must show commitment to building genuine consensus on the matters that concern Ghanaians the most and rally support around a common national cause. I am ready to support this national goal with patriotic zeal. The President must show leadership and take urgent steps at this crossroads to end the dangerous levels of inequality and polarization we see in the country.

To do this, let him respect the rights of all citizens and refrain from the intimidation of the media through hostility and needless arrests of critical voices. Let him end the politically motivated witch-hunts of leading opposition voices. For emphasis, President Akufo-Addo and his Vice President must demonstrate a commitment to the fight against corruption by prosecuting his officials many of whom have engaged in corrupt acts and disarm and stand down his militants he has drafted into the security agencies.

On the security front, this government must weed out the rogue elements it has drafted into the security agencies because they constitute a major threat to society – including robbing bullion vans at gunpoint.

Let the Attorney-General prosecute the killers of those eight innocent Ghanaians who were killed during the 2020 elections as well as the perpetrators of the Ayawaso West Wuogon violence. Let the President be interested in his Attorney General securing justice for Ahmed Suale, the journalist who was killed in cold blood for simply doing his work. And let justice be done in the case of Major Maxwell Mahama, a fine soldier who was lynched at Denkyira-Obuasi in 2017 whiles on duty tour.

These are the measures that can begin to set the tone for a genuine dialogue on building national cohesion and consensus and bring an end to the dangerous levels of polarization and discontent we see and feel around.

There is not a single example of any country in this world where repression of the opposition and dissenting voices or bad governance kept any party or leader in power forever. Eventually change will come because there is only so much that an oppressed, and over-burdened people can tolerate.

President Akufo-Addo inherited a buoyant democracy with strong institutions that made it possible for him and his party to win the 2016 elections. And that happened without a fly being hurt. Let him take those steps that would ensure that he leaves the country in one piece at the end of his tenure in 2025.

At the moment, this government has lost its way and seems ill-suited to govern.

CONCLUSION

Ghana is at a crossroads. The state of our nation is dire and crisis-ridden but in the last few weeks happenings in the football arena have taught us what can happen if we change course and do the right things. This lesson came in the shape of our gallant Black Stars who secured qualification to the 2022 World Cup by defeating a much fancied and vaunted rival.

Dismissed, vilified, and disparaged after their poor showing at the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon, the management of the team effected badly needed changes, which provided a new sense of purpose and direction, the culmination of which is the qualification to the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

Today, that qualification has provided a glimmer of hope on a very gloomy national horizon.

Congratulations once again Gallant Black Stars! My prayers and support will always be with you.

The Black Stars journey to the Qatar 2022 World Cup Finals provides useful lessons on which we can model responses to the socio-economic disaster of today. If a team written-off by pundits can reinvent itself, work together under the right leadership, and attain international glory; then the answers to our present woes are not far-fetched, they are within us to achieve.

If we work hard at it together – under exemplary and selfless leadership willing to make the right choices and the right calls – we will emerge out of this current crisis better and more united as a nation.

Failure is not an option. We have in our hand, an opportunity to act and do so quickly – at this crossroads – to return hope to our motherland.

God bless you.

I thank you for your kind attention.

News

KNUST students storm Twitter with #ContiAgainstDeferrals to oppose management’s decision

The Unity Hall Traditional Council (UTC) at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has stated that it is against management’s decision to defer about 6000 students over non-payment of school fees.

Residents of the Unity Hall, popularly referred to as Conti Hall, have stormed Twitter with the hashtag #ContiAgainstDeferrals.

Images of students holding placards with inscriptions such as “Deferral is not an option,” “Remember the charcoal seller’s son,” “The government even needs E-levy to survive”, have been shared widely on the space.

In summary, they are calling on the management to provide a flexible payment policy for students.

KNUST students storm Twitter with #ContiAgainstDeferrals to oppose management's decision
KNUST students storm Twitter with #ContiAgainstDeferrals to oppose management's decision

Currently, #ContiAgainstDeferrals is among the top 10 trends in Ghana.

KNUST students storm Twitter with #ContiAgainstDeferrals to oppose management's decision

Also, in a press statement, the Council noted that it is displeased about the mass deferment because “the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic which has dealt a serious blow to the Ghanaian economy has seriously affected parents of students too.”

Chairman of UTC, Boakye Kwadwo Boateng, further noted that students have been through so much due to the one-month strike action embarked by members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), therefore, management should rescind its decision particularly when “there is ample time for affected students to settle their fees before the year ends.”

KNUST students storm Twitter with #ContiAgainstDeferrals to oppose management's decision

Meanwhile, the management of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) has explained the decision to ask over 6,000 students to defer their courses.

According to Dr Daniel Norris Bekoe, who is the University’s Public Relations Officer, some students have invested their fees in ventures such as betting, buying vehicles for online ride-hailing services and bakery.

“The problem we have now is that a number of students are playing games with the University. For example, they use their school fees to buy cars for Uber, others are using it to set up bakeries, and others are also using it for betting, and we have evidence.”

“Some parents have even sent us audio where students have received the fees but have refused to pay or simply trading with the money.”

In reaction to the issue, North Tongu MP, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, says the University authorities’ decision is “harsh and inconsiderate considering the current economic crisis” in the country.

Mr Ablakwa appealed to the Education Ministry “to urgently intervene and save the future of these students.”

News Politics

Privileges Committee is not a “kangaroo” court, let’s respect the rules – Prof. Gyampo

Prof. Ransford Gyampo is the University of Ghana UTAG Secretary

Political Scientist at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo has backed Speaker Bagbin’s referral of three Members of Parliament to the Privileges Committee for absenting themselves from Parliament for over 15 days without permission.

According to Prof. Gyampo, the Speaker’s action is in respect of the rules and standing orders of Parliament given the fact that the MPs have breached Article 97(1) (c) of the Constitution and Standing Order 16 of the House.

The three MPs are; the Dome-Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo; Ayawaso Central MP, Henry Quartey and Assin Central MP, Kennedy Agyapong.

Speaking on Newsnight, Wednesday, Prof. Gyampo explained that the MPs cited for the offense must be allowed to defend themselves, hence should appear before the Privileges Committee.

He noted that the Committee is not a “Kangaroo” court thus such an impression should not be created.

“We are human beings and I’m sure they would be able to proffer explanations to those who will sit on that committee and if they are able to convince them. It’s not a kangaroo court and so we should not create the impression as if once a matter is referred to the privileges committee, automatically seats are going to be lost. I think there is going to be arguments and counter-arguments and defense here and there, and at the end of the day one that has superior argument will carry the day,” he said.

Meanwhile, Minority Chief Whip, Muntaka Mubarak has filed a motion seeking to revoke Speaker Bagbin’s referral of three Members of Parliament to the Privileges Committee in Parliament.

In a memo to the Speaker of Parliament on Tuesday sighted by myjoyonline.com, purportedly signed by the Asawase MP, he prayed the House to revoke the Speaker’s decision.

“That this Honourable House resolves to revoke, cancel or rescind the referral made by The Rt. Hon. Speaker on the 5th day of April, 2022 to the Committee on Privileges to consider the issue of absence without permission from the House under Article 97 (1) (c) of the Constitution and Standing Orders 15 and 16 of Honourables Sarah Adwoa Sarfo, Henry Quartey and Kennedy Ohene Agyapong,” portions of the memo read.

But Prof. Gyampo believes the rules of the House must be respected and allowed to work.

He said once the MPs failed to give prior notice to the Speaker as to why they would be absent and exceeded the 15 days absence threshold, the rules of the House must work.

“Institutions are strengthened when the rules of the game regarding the conduct of affairs in every facet of human engagement are forcefully enforced.

“If the rule says they’ve absented themselves for a number of days and that would warrant that the Speaker who may have not been given a prior notice of their absence, would have to act in the way he has acted, that’s the rule,” he added.

Ranking Member on the Privileges Committee, Mr. George Kweku Ricketts-Hagan however noted that the Committee is prepared to diligently do its work.

Speaking on Top Story, Wednesday, he said the Committee will do some underground work despite the House being on recess.

“We have to set ourselves ready to the job of a Privileges Committee and see what happens to the motion that the Minority Chief Whip has rightly filed. We are following the processes of Parliament to arrive at whatever conclusion or decision we will arrive at,” he stated.

Tags:  

News

Form rival student groups – Ernesto Yeboah advises students

Commander-in-Chief of the Economic Fighters League (EFL), Ernesto Yeboah, has charged students to form proactive movements that will be more interested in fighting for their interests other than the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS).

Speaking on Joy FM‘s Super Morning Show on Monday, April 4, Mr. Yeboah noted that the current student mother body (i.e NUGS) which is mandated to fight for the interest of students and also ensure their wellbeing, has failed in its mandate.

“The student movement has lost its fight, it has become a moribund institution that doesn’t represent the students interest anymore. What we have is a robotic type of leadership – they don’t speak.

“In the midst of TEWU strikes, UTAG strikes, general hardships in the country, all the students’ unions are quiet. NUGS is just quiet. I mean this is not normal, especially when you want to look at the history of the Student Movements in Ghana and the crucial role these bodies have played in society,” he stressed.

He said this on the back of the chaos that characterised NUGS’ national Executive Election, which took place over the weekend.

On Sunday, April 3, NUGS elected Dennis Appiah Larbi-Ampofo as President despite agitations over the credibility of the exercise.

Mr. Appiah Larbi-Ampofo won the election by garnering 78.1 percent of the votes cast.

Prior to that, other contestants had shared flyers congratulating themselves as winners of the contest, a development that generated heated reactions among students and social media users.

Sharing their concerns, some aggrieved members said they doubt the credibility of the elections.

It took the timely intervention of Police personnel on the grounds to calm tempers after the aggrieved members expressed dissatisfaction over the electoral process.

The General Secretary of the Union, Julius Anthony, has claimed the election was marred by malpractices.

According to him, based on the infractions that have characterised the process, the outcome cannot be deemed credible.

He claims the register for the election was done contrary to the provisions of the Union’s constitution.

But current President of NUGS, Emmanuel Boakye Yiadom, has refuted the assertion.

Reacting to the conflict that marked the election, Ernesto Yeboah bemoaned the seeming politicisation of student elections, which he said is eroding the effective administration of such unions and bodies, depriving them of quality leadership.

He contends that the leadership of NUGS, as seen in recent years, has been one which follows political dictates, instead of pursuing the interest of the students they represent.

Propounding a solution, he said the only way to address this is by creating rival groups which will be more concerned about the well-being of students.   

“What we have now are occupational leaders. Just the idea of occupying the position as NUGS President is their achievement and that is what they carry on in their CVs. Beyond that they don’t feel they owe the student body any obligation to represent them in their supreme interest and so has led to a situation where politics at that level is no longer inspiring. We have lost the culture of solidarity,” he lamented.  

“I think we’ve lost it to a large extent and it’s important that we also admit and perhaps begin the encouragement of rival student organizations in the country – organizations that can speak up and take up the course of the people when it is needed the most,” he added.

“But to say that NUGS as it currently is, and the general student body as it currently stands will on their own initiative – that’s taking on the interest of the people in the way that we saw in the past, it is never going to happen,” he said.   

News

Form rival student groups – Ernesto Yeboah advises students

Commander-in-Chief of the Economic Fighters League (EFL), Ernesto Yeboah, has charged students to form proactive movements that will be more interested in fighting for their interests other than the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS).

Speaking on Joy FM‘s Super Morning Show on Monday, April 4, Mr. Yeboah noted that the current student mother body (i.e NUGS) which is mandated to fight for the interest of students and also ensure their wellbeing, has failed in its mandate.

“The student movement has lost its fight, it has become a moribund institution that doesn’t represent the students interest anymore. What we have is a robotic type of leadership – they don’t speak.

“In the midst of TEWU strikes, UTAG strikes, general hardships in the country, all the students’ unions are quiet. NUGS is just quiet. I mean this is not normal, especially when you want to look at the history of the Student Movements in Ghana and the crucial role these bodies have played in society,” he stressed.

He said this on the back of the chaos that characterised NUGS’ national Executive Election, which took place over the weekend.

On Sunday, April 3, NUGS elected Dennis Appiah Larbi-Ampofo as President despite agitations over the credibility of the exercise.

Mr. Appiah Larbi-Ampofo won the election by garnering 78.1 percent of the votes cast.

Prior to that, other contestants had shared flyers congratulating themselves as winners of the contest, a development that generated heated reactions among students and social media users.

Sharing their concerns, some aggrieved members said they doubt the credibility of the elections.

It took the timely intervention of Police personnel on the grounds to calm tempers after the aggrieved members expressed dissatisfaction over the electoral process.

The General Secretary of the Union, Julius Anthony, has claimed the election was marred by malpractices.

According to him, based on the infractions that have characterised the process, the outcome cannot be deemed credible.

He claims the register for the election was done contrary to the provisions of the Union’s constitution.

But current President of NUGS, Emmanuel Boakye Yiadom, has refuted the assertion.

Reacting to the conflict that marked the election, Ernesto Yeboah bemoaned the seeming politicisation of student elections, which he said is eroding the effective administration of such unions and bodies, depriving them of quality leadership.

He contends that the leadership of NUGS, as seen in recent years, has been one which follows political dictates, instead of pursuing the interest of the students they represent.

Propounding a solution, he said the only way to address this is by creating rival groups which will be more concerned about the well-being of students.   

“What we have now are occupational leaders. Just the idea of occupying the position as NUGS President is their achievement and that is what they carry on in their CVs. Beyond that they don’t feel they owe the student body any obligation to represent them in their supreme interest and so has led to a situation where politics at that level is no longer inspiring. We have lost the culture of solidarity,” he lamented.  

“I think we’ve lost it to a large extent and it’s important that we also admit and perhaps begin the encouragement of rival student organizations in the country – organizations that can speak up and take up the course of the people when it is needed the most,” he added.

“But to say that NUGS as it currently is, and the general student body as it currently stands will on their own initiative – that’s taking on the interest of the people in the way that we saw in the past, it is never going to happen,” he said.   

News

Financing public universities in Ghana: Finance Minister’s proposal and its implications

Introduction

Policies emerge in response to specific needs of the society at a point in time. A cursory look at our development trajectory reveals that in terms of tertiary education financing, we have moved from a free tertiary education policy to a cost-sharing model all in response to peculiar challenges of the time. Through the changing dynamics of these financing models, we have had to, on a balance of probability, pursue options that are in the best interest of the country’s educational agenda and our overall focus of human capital development. It is based on this that a passionate analysis of the call by the finance minister to wane off public tertiary institutions from government payroll is non-negotiable.

The Problem

Two major events have necessitated a discussion on this long-standing debate on financing higher education institutions in Ghana. The first is the challenge with the government payroll system which is over-bloated coupled with our current economic challenges which makes it difficult for the government to have enough fiscal space. The second trigger is the recent UTAG strike on their conditions of service which have been an albatross on various governments. There might be other remote causes but for me, these two are the immediate causes of the proposition by the Minister.

The Minister’s Solution

To be able to address the economic challenges we are currently grappling with, the Minister is suggesting that, in the medium term, one of the measures to undertake will be to “wean off public tertiary institutions from government payroll and provide them with a fixed amount block grant instead”. This to him would reduce the volume of the government payroll, and by inference take the government off any responsibility in terms of workers’ agitations since the institutions would be responsible for paying their employees.

Legal Issues

The 1992 constitution of Ghana, Article 38, Section 2a states that; “the State shall, subject to the availability of resources provide equal and balanced access to secondary and other appropriate pre-university education, equal access to university or equivalent education, with emphasis on science and technology.”

This denotes that there is a responsibility on the state to provide equal access to university education BUT subject to the availability of resources. This position of creating equal access was brought up in a suit at the supreme court case by the Federation of Youth Associations of Ghana (FEDYAG). In that case, the supreme court held that public universities can have a fee-paying policy and that such a policy is not discriminatory. This implies that it is legal for public universities to charge full fees under the current constitutional dispensation.

The Implications

It will be important for the government to publish a policy brief on this proposal so that it will be easier for policy analysts and the general public to appreciate the modalities of such a move. Such a policy brief will clearly explain the terms and conditions of the “block grant” and its application and disbursement criteria and the role the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC) will play in all this.

However, these are the implications of the proposition by the Minister;

  1. Under the present arrangement, aside from the government subventions, other sources of income to the public tertiary institutions are internally generated funds, private donations, and student tuition fees. With the Minister’s proposition coming into force, the sources of revenue for public tertiary institutions will be these three sources plus the “block grant”.
  2. Act 983 requires that these public tertiary institutions submit their fees to be approved by the parliament of Ghana. This proposal MIGHT mean that this Act is amended to exclude these public tertiary institutions to have a free hand in charging fees that would enable them to run their institutions efficiently.
  3. We have a target to obtain a Gross Tertiary Enrolment Rate (GTER) of 40% by 2030. To achieve this, we have already removed the financial barrier at the secondary education level to pave way for more people to access secondary education. This will naturally translate into higher enrolment levels at the tertiary level. We have not been able to improve over the years because of inadequate infrastructure in our public universities. Adding a cost barrier would automatically reduce access to tertiary education and hence we will not be able to meet our target. The effect of this is that the positive relationship established between improvement in GTER and the economic transformation of countries cannot be realized in this country.
  4. The externalities of tertiary education are enormous. That is why in the development trajectory of advanced economies they invested heavily in their tertiary education institutions, making them the hub of strategic thinking, research, and innovation. “Privatizing” public tertiary institutions might reduce the social benefits associated with accessing tertiary education since most people might not be able to afford the fees.
  5. There is also a possibility of retrenchment if the public tertiary institutions are not able to raise enough revenue to pay their workers. The implications of a possible retrenchment on the overall economy cannot be underestimated.
  6. There should be robust students’ financial assistance schemes that will offer various forms of assistance to students. What we currently have is nothing to write home about.

Conclusion

A good public policy finds a fine balance between social benefits and costs and it is implemented with the interest of the public at the center. We might be going through various challenges which require that we think outside the box. It is also true that the public sector wage bill is an albatross on government finances. It, however, does not mean we should sacrifice the development of our human resources, especially at this stage of our development process. We do not have the muscle to “privatize” our public tertiary institutions. We should subscribe to a revised cost-sharing model where the government can absorb certain categories of employees’ remuneration in the public tertiary institutions in addition to the payment of a “fixed amount block”. This will prevent the institutions from charging exorbitant fees that will block access to tertiary education for many who cannot afford it.

***The writer is an Education Economist, Researcher, and Education Policy Analyst. He is currently the Executive Director, of The Institute for Education Studies (IFEST), an educational policy think tank in Ghana.

News

Government should engage with universities to set realistic fees for students – Dr. Nkumbaan

UTAG-UG president, Dr. Samuel Nkumbaan

The President of the University of Ghana’s UTAG-Chapter, Dr. Samuel Nkumbaan has called on the government to initiate stakeholder engagements to enable universities set realistic fees for students should they finally be weaned off the government payroll.

According to him, the current fees students pay to universities are largely unrealistic and do not support the universities to run efficiently and effectively.

This situation is further exacerbated by the government often delaying in releasing funds to the schools.

Speaking on JoyNews’ PM Express, Dr. Nkumbaan said, “Reality is I cannot have another graduate University of Ghana student paying less than 2,000 cedis as annual academic facility user fees and then I have a brother who has to be in a nursing college which is a public institution doing a certificate programme that he pays over 3,000 cedis.

“That you have fees for main halls of the universities that are less than 1000 ghana cedis per year, for which competition is keen and there is a struggle, and in that matter a fierce struggle for survival of the fittest within the system. Whereas private hostels would charge let’s say 4,000 per bed for the academic year and those hostels are oversubscribed.

“And so if in reality government wants to wean the universities off the system, government has got to do the needful by doing all the necessary engagements in terms of what it takes that it requires to run or to graduate an undergraduate student per year so that realistically we all agree that these are the fees that are realistic for the universities to be able to operate on their own. These are the fees that ought to be paid in terms of academic user fees, in terms of residential facility user fees.”

The UTAG had suggested to government to wean off public tertiary institutions from the government payroll in order for them to become financially independent while running effectively and efficiently.

This was after the UTAG had gone on strike following the government’s failure to address their concerns surrounding their conditions of service.

The Finance Minister who on Thursday had announced the initiative as part of efforts to address the challenges confronting the economy failed to give details as to how the policy would be implemented.

He, however, noted that the institutions would rather be provided with a fixed amount “block grant.”

A block grant is an annual sum of money allocated by central government to a state agency to help fund a specific project or programme.

News

Secretary of UG UTAG branch welcomes government’s decision to wean tertiary institutions off its support

The secretary of the University of Ghana branch of UTAG, Prof Ransford Gyampoh has welcomed government’s decision to wean tertiary institutions off its support.

The move is part of measures government is introducing to rationalise its expenditure as it is forced under the current arrangement to dole out huge amounts of money to these subvented schools.

Prof Gyampoh believes this is long overdue and that universities can now charge appropriate fees to run effectively.

“The universities are unable to increase fees unless they go to parliament with approval. For so many years, they’ve not been able to do so. They’re not even able to increase fees.

“Compare the money that students in regular public universities pay to their counterparts in private universities in Ghana, and you would see that we are just not being serious with what we want to do in allowing the universities to run effectively,” he said lamented.

He disclosed that during the UTAG strike early this year, some members made a proposal to government to allow universities to run their own affairs.

This he said, would require students to pay more tuition in order to allow the universities to run effectively and efficiently.

“Some of the proceeds can be used to pay lecturers or beef up the infrastructure of these various universities, rather than always waiting for government subvention that delays and government subvention that are woefully inadequate that are not able to do anything for the university and for expanding their infrastructure.”  

News Politics

Free SHS policy: ‘Why won’t you allow those who can pay to pay?’ – Prof. Gyampo to government

Secretary UG-UTAG, Prof. Ransford Gyampo

A Political Scientist at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has urged government to consider a review of its flagship Free SHS policy, by allowing those who can pay to do so.

The suggestion by the lecturer was in reaction to the measures by government to address the current economic difficulties in the country.

Speaking in an interview with Raymond Acquah on UpFront on Thursday, Professor Gyampo stated that, even though he’s pleased with some of the austerity measures, which were announced by the Finance Minister on Thursday, he believes that there is more that could have been done.

In this regard, he stated that, the Free SHS policy is one of such initiatives which should have been modified to lessen the burden on government’s treasury.

“Several proposals have been made, but government may want to still stick to its Free SHS project. But why won’t you allow those people who can pay to pay? And then also, if that is not the case, why won’t we limit the Free SHS to only day students? So everybody gets Free SHS but those who want to lodge there, who want to enjoy boarding facilities, to pay for those boarding and lodging.

I think these would help to ease the pressure on our public purse. And I was hoping that this will feature in the measures that were proposed. But it appears government cannot do it all, but at the same time, it is refusing to accept help from people who genuinely want to help to make sure that the system is improved”, Professor Gyampo said.

He added that, as of now, the programme is fraught with a myriad of challenges, which affects effective teaching and learning across the various second cycle institutions in the country.

Ranging from the absence of limited infrastructure to shortage of food and other setbacks, pupils who are enrolled under the Free SHS programme are faced with a lot of inconveniences, and hence the need for government to embrace a revision of the policy.

Touching on the decision by government to wean-off public tertiary institutions in its expenditure, Professor Gyampo said the idea is a welcome development. In his view, the calls for government to allow public universities to run their own affairs is long overdue.

According to the lecturer, if this is done, public universities will have the opportunity to determine their own fees structure that will help them in their expenditure, including the payment of lecturers. On that note, he disclosed that during the just ended UTAG impasse, this was part of the suggestions his colleagues and himself hinted.

Professor Gyampo however stated that, the problem with most leaders is their lack of will to implement the plans they put on paper, and therefore he will be watching to see how government will roll out the plethora of austerity measures which were outlined by the Finance Minister on Thursday.

Addressing the press on Thursday, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Attah, disclosed a series of measures, which according to him will help in getting the economy back on track. As part of his delivery, he stated that, public tertiary institutions in the country will be weaned-off government’s payroll.

He noted that the institutions would rather be provided with a fixed amount “block grant.”

The Finance Minister, however, did not give details of this policy. A block grant is an annual sum of money allocated by central government to a state agency to help fund a specific project or programme.

However, on the Free Senior High School policy, he disclosed that “President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has absolutely no intention to roll back on a major policy like Free SHS.

We see education as the best enabler for sustainable economic growth and transformation and will do more to improve on it for it to serve more and better our children”.

News

‘Government must subsidise inputs for us, exclude Agric Ministry from 20% budget cut’ – Peasant Farmers

The Peasant Farmers Association has urged government to exclude the Agric Ministry from agencies whose budget expenditures will be cut by 20 per cent this year.

This follows an earlier announcement by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, who explained that the cut was necessitated by the current economic difficulties.

But the Association says farmers are already bearing the brunt of a slash in the fertiliser price subsidy, which is adversely impacting some key crops like maize.

The Executive Director of the Association, Charles Nyaba, has warned of looming food insecurity in the country if the government does not subsidise inputs for farmers.

“Ministry of Food and Agriculture should be excluded. Even though government is facing difficulties, when UTAG members stayed in the house for more than one month, government found money to top up for them to go back to the classroom.

“We are talking about food security. We are suggesting that no matter how hard it is for government, they should find money and subsidise inputs for farmers. We are doing this not just for the farmer; we are doing this for the ordinary consumer,” he said.

Mr Nyaba indicated that the unavailability of fertiliser for farmers is resulting in the shortage of cereals and legumes like maize and rice.

He wants Ghanaians to change their preferences for such food items to tubers.

“Even though we are talking about food shortages, our predictions are based on cereals and legumes. These commodities depend so much on the use of agro-chemicals and fertliser but when you take commodities like cassava and plantain, they do not actually depend so much on fertiliser.

“Our suggestion is that all of us should actually change our taste and begin eating more of tubers, cassava and related commodities. If we do that, then the pressure on maize and rice would have gone down,” he added.

News Politics

Drop some ministers, reduce your salary and park all V8 vehicles – Prof. Gyampo to Akufo-Addo

Prof. Ransford Gyampo is the University of Ghana UTAG Secretary

A Senior Lecturer at the University of Ghana, Professor Ransford Gyampo, has called on President Akufo-Addo to consider some austerity measures, to salvage the country’s dwindling fortunes.

In an open letter on Facebook, on Thursday, the Political Scientist stated that, President Akufo-Addo has failed to meet the expectations of many Ghanaians who voted for him.

According to him, even though the President has done his best, there are still a number of challenges which need to be addressed.

In this regard, the lecturer called on President Akufo-Addo to suspend some privileges being enjoyed by himself and other government appointees.

“Reduce the size of your government now, by realigning some functionally duplicative ministries and dropping some ministers. Some proposals can be made to this effect, but a government that wants to lead by example in these hard times, should know the ministries that are a complete waste and drain on our limited resources and either realign or scrap them.

Park all the V8 Vehicles, auction some, and let the remaining be used only when appointees are traveling out of the city centers to the remote hinterlands where the real use of these vehicles may be needed. Let these appointees drive their salon vehicles to work. Let us supplant the view that, poor people are extravagant”, portions of the post read.

He also added that, “If necessary, please reduce your own salary and that of your remaining appointees by 30 percent, and reduce or completely suspend the payment of all the allowances and per diems that are given to people who already earn huge salaries (even when reduced by 30 percent).

Apart from the Presidency, please reduce or completely withdraw the fuel coupons that grant free fuel to all appointees, friends and family members, so all will buy fuel and be frugal with the little they have.

Let all appointees stay and work here in Ghana. If they have to travel, let them fly with economy class tickets. Your recent flight with a commercial airline to Dubai is commendable and must be emulated”.

To mobilise more revenue, Professor Gyampo also advised government to reinstate the scrapped toll booths with an adjustment from 50 pesewas to 1 cedi for salon vehicles, and from 1 cedi to 2 cedis for big engines.

“Scrap some of the ‘nuisance taxes’ on petroleum products to cushion Ghanaians. The 2020 Auditor-General Report suggested that we lost 12.8 billion cedis due to infractions and other irregularities committed by statutory institutions. Please quickly institute measures to ensure we don’t continue to fetch water with basket, even in these hard times”, Professor Gyampo suggested.

In conclusion, he urged the President to consider reshuffling his appointees to make room for “fresh ideas and renewed energies.”

Meanwhile, amidst the growing depreciation of the cedi and the recent increments in fuel prices, government is expected to hold a crunch cabinet meeting to find solutions to the raging economic challenges.

The meeting is expected to take place at the Peduase Lodge, from Thursday, March 17, to Sunday, March 20, 2022.

The deliberations will be chaired by President Akufo-Addo, together with all NPP MPs, ministers, government appointees, and the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) leadership.

According to JoyNews’ sources, the meeting will discuss whether government should continue to push through with the E-levy Bill or resort to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), in the face of the current fiscal hurdles.

Confirming the retreat on Joy FM’s Midday News on Thursday, the source further said the meeting will discuss other pertinent issues relating to the country’s development.

In a tweet on Thursday, a leading member of the ruling New Patriotic Party, Gabby Otchere-Darko also indicated that given the current deadlock on the controversial E-Levy Bill, there’s the need for a ‘national debate’ on the way forward.

“2022 began without the usual $3 billion injections of Eurobond cash. Govt’s post-COVID recovery GhanaCARES programme hinged partly on an E-levy which Parliament may not even OK.

“There should be a national debate: do we want IMF or E-Levy or both or none? Tough decisions confront Ghana”, he tweeted.

News

UTAG suspends strike indefinitely

The National Executive Committee (NEC) of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) has resolved to call off its industrial action, indefinitely.

This resolution follows an emergency meeting held on Tuesday to consider the outcome of the referenda on the National Executive Committee’s decision to temporarily suspend the industrial action which commenced on 10th January, 2022.

In a statement dated March 8, UTAG said, “after careful assessment of the referenda results, interim agreements reached between UTAG and the Employer, and the various branch reports, the NEC of UTAG resolved to indefinitely suspend the strike action of 10th January, 2022.”

Earlier, the NEC of UTAG decided to temporarily suspend the strike action from Monday, February 21, to Friday, March 4, in order to make way for negotiations.

However, 12 out of the 15 UTAG branches voted to reject the directive, insisting that they will resume lectures only if the employer grants their request.

As a result, the NEC of UTAG in its latest press statement, has assured its members that it will ensure that all concerns raised will be addressed by the Employer.

“The NEC of UTAG promises to monitor and police the full implementation of all agreements with the employer and to work with clear timelines and roadmaps to ensure that all promises and agreements are respected.

“There would no longer be reactionary measures but proactive interventions that would not wait till matters get out of hand before resorting to industrial actions,” parts of the statement read.

UTAG wants government to restore their 2012 conditions of service, which pegged the monthly income of entry-level lecturers at $2,084.

The Association has complained that the current arrangement has reduced its members’ basic premiums to $997.84.

News

UTAG National Executives meet to finalise suspended strike action

The National Executives of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) will meet today to take a final decision on their suspended action.

According to General Secretary of UTAG, Dr Asare Asante Annor, lectures are back in the classroom following the resolution of their impasse with government.

Speaking on JoyNews, Dr Annor assured that lecturers will not resume their strike.

“As it stands now, first and foremost, we have been able to resolve the differences we have with the employer. So we will be returning to the classrooms as we did on Monday. We have already been teaching.

“When you meet at the negotiation table, there are a lot of things that come to play. As a result of these things in totality, we have been able to have some sort of resolution to the impasse. The university lecturer is going back to the classroom to teach, and our students are also going to be able to go for lectures,” he said.

Meanwhile, there appears to be confusion among the leadership of the University teachers association over the status of their strike over poor conditions of service.

Following a court order and interventions by some Ghanaians, the National Executives suspended the strike action for 10 days, but the 15 public universities voted against the suspension.

But over the weekend, the General Secretary of UTAG, Dr Asare Asante Annor, says the body reached an agreement with the government over its almost two-month strike after successful deliberations.

“On Wednesday and Thursday, we had a long meeting with the employer. Today we had to meet at the various right levels, and yesterday also the NEC of UTAG met and what we can say for now is that we have resolved our situation that we find ourselves in with the employer, so as we speak now, we’ve been able to settle our differences, and we’ve moved on.

“So we want to take the opportunity to thank the general UTAG members for their support, and we also hope that the intervention also from the President speaking that there is going to be a lasting solution to the problem of the University Teacher as the President has spoken, he is also going to follow through.

“All we can say is that now we have been able to resolve some of the issues that we have and we are already teaching, … we are back to the classroom, and the student is also back,” he said.

But the National President of UTAG, Professor Solomon Nunoo, says there was no such meeting insisting the association is yet to meet to take the final decision on the strike.

“Friday, there was no meeting. I have heard in the media that there was a meeting between UTAG and government on Friday, but there was no meeting with government,” he said.

He noted that the meeting would instead be held today, adding that “we are in the classroom; if anything will change, it will depend on the meeting.”

News

We’ve been able to resolve our differences with government – UTAG

The General Secretary for the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG), Dr Asare Asante Annor, has revealed that the Association and government have been able to resolve their outstanding issues.

Speaking on JoyNews, Dr Annor assured that lecturers will not resume their strike.

“As it stands now, first and foremost, we have been able to resolve the differences we have with the employer. So we will be returning to the classrooms as we did on Monday. We have already been teaching.

When you meet at the negotiation table, there are a lot of things that come to play. As a result of these things in totality, we have been able to have some sort of resolution to the impasse. The university lecturer is going back to the classroom to teach and our students are also going to be able to go for lectures,” he said.

UTAG, since the beginning of the year, embarked on a strike action to demand that government improves the working conditions of lecturers. Academic work has been halted for close to two months.

Although the National Labour Commission filed a lawsuit against UTAG for failing to call off the strike, the Association did not budge.

The Labour Division of the High Court hearing the case urged both parties to resolve the impasse outside of court through negotiation. The first attempt was unsuccessful.

For the second time, the court directed the NLC and UTAG to settle their differences out of court. During this period, government had been engaging UTAG.

On February 15, the Labour Division of the Accra High Court placed an injunction on the ongoing strike by the Association and directed UTAG to return to the negotiation table.

Following this, the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana entreated its members nationwide to honour its decision to return to the classroom on Monday, February 28. The suspension was to last until March 4.

We've been able to resolve our differences with government - UTAG
Lecturers and students of the University of Ghana begin classes for the semester [Photo credit: Radio Univers]

During the period lecturers had returned to post, a referendum conducted by the UTAG’s National Executive Council showed an overwhelming rejection from public universities of the decision to pick up their tools.

Also, President Akufo-Addo reaffirmed the commitment of the government to find a lasting solution to the prevailing strike action by UTAG.

But after a crunch meeting between government and UTAG on Friday, March 4, both parties reached an agreement.

UTAG had requested that government reconsiders the payment of its annual research allowance to a more realistic allowance “as this is critical to our research output, promotion and ultimately national development.”

They also wanted the 2013 Interim Market Premium (IMP) of 114% on Basic Salary restored.

The Association had bemoaned the current salary arrangement which has reduced its members’ basic premiums to $997.84 instead of the 2012 conditions of service which put entry-level lecturers on a monthly pay of $2,084.42.

News

Probe into money spent to fly Adwoa Safo to Ghana for E-levy vote – Minority to Special Prosecutor

The Minority in Parliament has asked the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng, to investigate the use of over GH₵ 900,000 to charter a private jet for Dome-Kwabenya MP, Sarah Adwoa Safo, to return to the country last year to vote on the controversial e-levy.

The Ranking Member on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa expressed shock over the development.

He lashed out at the Akufo-Addo administration over its failure to pay NABCO workers, and address the concerns of UTAG members among others; yet spends close to a million cedis to ensure the approval of the e-levy.

Mr Ablakwa who accused the government of being insensitive to the plight of the taxpayer insists the Special Prosecutor must investigate the circumstances around the chartered flights.

According to him, there has been silence on the rental of the business jet, hence, the decision to have a probe into the matter.

He said “my investigation revealed that a jet registered HB-JOE that’s the registration detail, I found out that it cost $4,800 per hour to charter the HB-JOE. When you do a very conservative estimate, you look at how the HB-JOE was moved from Belgium to go pick her up, and bring her down to Accra, when I track that it was 11 hours journey and the aircraft wasn’t flown back,” he said.

He noted that adding the above mentioned together “with the conservative estimate that factor in the parking fees, the reposition fees, the one-way fees, the crew fees and then the wait time fees”; it means that the country lost $140,000 which is equivalent to GH948, 500.

He also rejected claims that the monies used for the private jet were sponsored by friends of the MP.

According to him, the identity of the financiers should be made public to settle all doubts

“We must have high standards in this country, you haven’t committed any criminal conduct, you say that you care about Adwoa Safo so much and you so much love the e-levy that you are willing to do everything to let your MP come and vote, so we want to know you. Who are you?” he said.

News

UEW UTAG, GAUA reps on Governing Council, demand immediate removal of Council Chair

The representatives of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) and the Governing Council of the University of Education, Winneba (UEW), are demanding the immediate removal of the Chairman of the governing council of the University, Nana Ofori Ansah I. 

They are also calling on government and the Ministry of Education to intervene and, with immediate effect, ensure a withdrawal of the ‘illegitimate and unilaterally’ written letter terminating the appointment of the Finance Officer.

According to them, the short reign of the council chairman has been nothing but divisive, dictatorial, and authoritative with an unbridled penchant for using a bulldozer approach to pursue a hidden agenda.

In a joint press release signed by the President of UTAG and Convocation Representative on the Governing Council of UEW, Eric Sakyi Nketiah, and the President of GAUA and Convocation Representative on the Governing Council, Dr.  Beth Offei-Awuku, the group stated emphatically that such administrative infractions by the Council Chairman have never happened in the history of the University nor known to have occasioned in any of the sister public universities in Ghana.

They also contend that the actions of the council chair are creating tension in the University and foreboding imminent acts of vindictiveness and victimization expected to be unleashed on certain targeted staff, such as concerned senior members of the University.

“We, consequently, call on the Government through the Minister of Education to immediately, in order to foster peace, unity and true reconciliation, call the Chairman of Council and the Vice-Chancellor to order to avert any catastrophic event that could mar the peaceful environment. We further call on the government through the Minister and other agencies to get to the ground for a fact-finding mission to ascertain the reality and not to give in to deceptions and lies from any quarters who for obvious selfish interests could paint an entirely different picture,” the statement said.

The two persons are also demanding the immediate holding of the convocation elections to elect representatives to the Council without further delay and called on the Vice-Chancellor to withdraw the letter that has sought to postpone the elections indefinitely.  

“There is presently, pent-up feelings of seething anger amongst colleague staff such that any delay or failure on the part of the Government/Minister to act immediately may result in internal explosion and chaos which would make the institution ungovernable.”

Below is the full statement signed by the President of UTAG and Convocation Representative on Governing Council, Eric Sakyi Nketiah and President of GAUA and Convocation Representative on Governing Council, Dr.  Beth Offei-Awuku.

Joint press statement by UEW Convocation Representatives on Council on recent happenings in the University and on the conduct of the Chairman of the Governing Council, Nana Ofori-Ansah I

This Press Statement has been necessitated by recent developments in the University of Education, Winneba, over the period of the reconstitution of the new UEW Governing Council under the chairmanship of Nana Ofori Ansah I, and relating to events immediately preceding and after the Winneba High Court ruled on the reinstatement of some dismissed staff of UEW.

This Courtruling with its consequential orders, over the last few weeks, has resulted in several infractions with different interpretations put on the ruling or orders as issued by the Court and the way and manner the Governing Council of the University, especially through its Chairman, has handled the issues. The outcome of the various actions taken by the Chairman of the Governing Council has left so much to be desired. The Chairman’s actions have created unease, tension, and confusion within the University.

Even though it had been the wish of the University that the implementation of the Court orders would have been carried out smoothly to bring about peace, unity, and reconciliation, the hasty implementation of the orders engineered by the Chairman without any stakeholder engagement and consultation and the consequential realities on the ground point to the fact that the Chairman has thrown the University into more confusion than he inherited.

The outcome is that in the past few weeks, one issue after another emanating from a series of letters and releases from the Chairman since the reinstatement process was initiated unilaterally by him has led to friction, differences, confrontations and misunderstanding between the Chairman and some Principal Officers of the University, especially the substantive Finance Officer; between the Vice-Chancellor and the substantive Finance Officer; between the former Finance Officer and the incumbent Finance Officer; between Council Chairman and the Finance Officer; and, between the Chairman and the Registrar.

These serious issues of differences between some members of Management and the Chairman of the Governing Council based on the Chairman’s own unilateral and bulldozer approach to solving issues should be addressed expeditiously otherwise, they could spell doom for the institution because of the unnecessary tension brewing in the University. 

Indeed, certain directives and decisions relative to appointments, reassignments and termination of appointment have been taken unilaterally without due recourse or reference to laid down rules and regulations enshrined in the University of Education Act 2004 (Act 672) and the Statutes. These directives, most of which emanate from the Council Chairman but do not follow due process and procedure, need urgent attention and resolution.

Some of the worrisome infractions include:

  • Before the High Court ruling, the Council Chairman met with union leaders, group after group, in sessions he labelled as peacebuilding and familiarisation. In these sessions, he mentioned the possibility of a landmark court ruling that could redefine the leadership of the University. In his meeting with one such group, he used a loaded Akan phrase to summarise his message – to quote him, he said “adanma wo maame awo na y3aka s3 wo nua ni” to wit, “all that matters is that your mum has a new baby whom you call your sibling”. He was, obviously referencing the outcome of the Court that led to the reinstatement of the dismissed officers with so much subtle optimism. This was one clear week or so before the court ruling. In hindsight, how the Chairman of the Council could preempt a landmark court ruling way before the same was delivered by the judge is mind-boggling.
  • Per the UEW Act 2004 (Act 672), the Council Chairman is not an officer of the University and therefore has no formal office or Secretariat. There is therefore no letterhead in the University labelled for the office of the Council Chairman. This Chairman has, however, on his own and without recourse to the Registrar’s Secretariat that serves as the Secretariat of the Governing Council, created his own letterhead labelled “Office of the Council Chairman” and has used same to unilaterally terminate the appointment of the substantive Finance Officer, Mr. Francis Obeng in this great University. Since the Court ruling and through his haste to implement the Court orders the Chairman has been issuing letters, operating and communicating with the University and the media with a letterhead purported to emanate from the Office of the Registrar, with and without reference numbers, and untraceable to any UEW Registry. So far such letters have been issued and none authentically comes from the office of the Registrar’s Secretariat even though they all bear the coloured letterhead of that office. Indeed all the letterhead in so far as they do not emanate from the Registrar’s Secretariat can be deemed fake.
  • A letter from the office of the Vice-Chancellor supposedly appointing Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie to a position parallel to the substantive Finance Officer, a Principal Officer’s position had been issued. The content of this appointment is an affront to both the Statutes and the Act governing the establishment of the University, UEW Act 2004 (Act 672). The Act gives the authority for the appointment of the Finance Officer and Head of Finance Section to the Governing Council upon a Council resolution on such appointment. In this instance, in spite of the Court Orders to reinstate the Vice-Chancellor to his vacant seat and to the other 5 officers to their grade and not necessarily to their offices: for the avoidance of doubt the Winneba High Court Ruling contained the following orders:

An order directly directed at the Respondent University particularly to the Governing Council to reinstate Prof. Mawuto Avoke to the vacant position of a substantive Vice-Chancellor as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of the Education, Winneba following the exoneration from the procurement breaches according to the Economic and Organised Crime(EOCO) Report to enable him to complete his term with the few months that he has to retire.

ii. an order directing the Respondent University, particularly its Governing Council to reinstate the 5 (five) affected staff, namely,

  1. Dr. THEOPHILUS SENYO ACKORLIE
  2. FRANK OWUSU BOATENG
  3. SENA DAKE
  4. MARY DZIMEY
  5. ING DANIEL TETTEY

     To their employment in the University on their grade but not necessarily to their last offices.

Iii. An order directed at the Respondent University to pay the basic salary of the affected staff from the day they were asked to step aside to the day of resumption.

       iv. The orders given are forthwith”

  • It is clear from the reading of the orders that nowhere did Court order the termination or variation of the appointment of the substantive Finance Officer and Head of Finance, Mr. Francis Obeng, to make room for the appointment of Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie.
  • Nevertheless, the Council Chairman, without recourse to Council, acting through the Vice-Chancellor and in flagrant violation and defiance of the Court orders appointed Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie as the Head of the Finance Section, Finance Officer and instigated an unnecessary clash at the Finance Directorate. This action generated huge uproar and condemnation upon which the letter had to be withdrawn/overwritten only for another to be reissued in a similar fashion a few days after the withdrawal, on the tacit instructions of the Council Chairman.
  • As representatives of Convocation, we are aware of the Council Chairman’s unilateral decisions without due regard to established rules resulting in almost every meeting of the Council ending in stalemates, suspicions, and unnecessary banter amongst members is creating division rather than unity. Such authoritative behaviour of the Council Chairman must be abated by his appointing authorities as same has poured fuel on the already tense situation on Campus.
  • We need to put on record that the inconclusive Council meeting held on the 24th of February 2022 on the matter of substantive Finance Officer position, and the unilateral decision of the Council Chairman to terminate the appointment of the substantive Finance Officer, Mr. Francis Obeng, without assigning any tangible reason, without due process and without recourse or reference to the Governing  Council but on his personal decision and accord is dictatorial, authoritarian, wrong administratively, illegitimate, and a slap in the face of university administrative principles. This act of his must be condemned and reversed immediately. The body and spirit of the said letter was again in bad taste as it sought to dispose of a Principal Officer with a requirement to hand over an entire University Finance Office and its operations, within an hour. We are urging the substantive Finance to stay put as the substantive Finance Officer as the said letter is a nullity. The Chairman of the Governing Council does not have any legitimate power to unilaterally terminate the appointment of a Finance Officer or any Principal Officer or indeed any Senior Member or staff of the University. 
  • One innovative Reconciliation Committee set up by the brief administration of Prof. Andy Ofori-Birikorang, then as Acting Vice-Chancellor, to receive and investigate petitions from the university community aimed at fostering peace and reconciliation was subsumed by a newly established Council Reconciliation Sub-committee on the proposal of the Council Chairman, and was tasked to take over all petitions presented to the First Committee in addition to all matters relating to the reinstatement of the 5 dismissed University staff who were to be placed “on their grades and not necessarily to their last offices”, as per the Winneba High Court Ruling. This new Council Sub-Committee was thus responsible, in principle, to advise Council on the placement of the Finance Officer, among others. The Council Chairman repossessed the powers of this ably constituted Sub-Committee which membership include the Director-General of the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission (GTEC)- and used the repossession to arrogate unto himself the power that led to the termination of the appointment of the Finance Officer, Mr. Francis Obeng.
  •  Under the pretext of advice from the Attorney General, the Council Chairman stated among other things that the valid and uncontroverted appointment of Mr. Francis Obeng could be terminated or withdrawn to make room for the appointment of Dr. Theophilus Senyo Ackorlie – an opinion/advice that in several Council members opinion runs contrary to the spirit of the Winneba High Court Ruling. That the interpretation of a High Court ruling would be sought at the Attorney General’s (AG) Office and the constant mention of the Attorney General in matters of Council deliberations, have been too regular, intimidating and unfair under the leadership of the current Council Chairman. The Chairman has over the period shown a lack of appreciation of the proper administrative and governance procedures in tertiary institutions and our University in particular.
  • Another issue of dire concern is the absurd postponement of the election of Convocation Representatives to the Governing Council. This is seen as a deliberate ploy to deny Convocation rightful place on Council in a bid to gag dissenting opinions or voices on matters that affect members of Convocation and the University as a whole. How could the Vice-Chancellor, without any assigned reason, postpone indefinitely the Convocation election which was to elect four of our members to represent Convocation on Council? How could the Council Chairman in connivance with the Vice-Chancellor, and in flagrant disregard of established rules and conventions take such a decision when the term of Convocation members on Council was to end on Monday, 28th February, 2022? What could be the motive when the election isn’t causing any problems? Even when the Registrar has in a letter to the Vice-Chancellor rationalised why the Convocation elections should not be postponed, such wise administrative advice has been thrown away and the elections as of now remain postponed. These are all orchestrated by the Council Chairman to have his way to execute a particular agenda. His autocratic and dictatorial handling of affairs of the University does not portray him as someone who has the peace of the University at heart.

We, therefore, call on the Government and the Sector Ministry to intervene and, with immediate effect, ensure a withdrawal of the illegitimate unilaterally written letter terminating the appointment of the Finance Officer, and in pursuit of peace,  unity and reconciliation of this great university recall and withdraw the appointment of Nana Ofori Ansah I as the Chairman of the Governing Council of UEW. His short reign has been divisive, dictatorial, and authoritarian with an unbridled penchant for using a bulldozer approach to pursue a hidden agenda.

It must be stated emphatically that such administrative infractions by the Council Chairman has never happened in the history of this University nor known to have occasioned in any of the sister Public Universities in Ghana.

It is upon this and many other matters that are creating tension in the University and foreboding imminent acts of vindictiveness and victimisation expected to be unleashed on certain targeted staff, that as concerned Senior Members of the University, we feel obligated to speak out and not sit aloof in the face of these current happenings.

We, consequently, call on the Government through the Minister of Education to immediately, in order to foster peace, unity and true reconciliation call the Chairman of Council and the Vice-Chancellor to order to avert any catastrophic event that could mar the peaceful environment. We further call on the government through the Minister and other agencies to get to the ground on a fact-finding mission to ascertain the reality and not to give in to deceptions and lies from any quarters who for obvious selfish interests could paint an entirely different picture.

We equally demand the immediate holding of the Convocation elections to elect our representatives to Council without further delay and call on the Vice-Chancellor to withdraw the letter that has sought to postpone the elections indefinitely.  

There is presently, pent-up feelings of seething anger amongst colleague staff such that any delay or failure on the part of the Government/Minister to act immediately may result in internal explosion and chaos which would make the institution ungovernable.

We, nevertheless, call on the University community to remain calm. We also encourage our cherished community to keep hope alive and focus on the vision and mission of the University as we trust that all these unfortunate issues would be appropriately resolved in the pursuit of lasting peace at UEW.

Long Live UEW

Long Live Ghana

Thank you.

Signed

Mr. Eric Sakyi Nketiah                                                       

President-UTAG and Convocation Representative on Governing Council                        

Dr. (Mrs) Beth Offei-Awuku

President of GAUA and Convocation Representative on Governing Council

Cc

The President, Republic of Ghana

The Chief of Staff

The Minister of Education

The Ghana Tertiary Education Commission

The Media

Contacts

+233 24 365 3998 / +233 24471 7790

END

News

Weaknesses in labour institutions account for recent agitations – Dr Anthony Baah

The Secretary-General of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Dr Anthony Yaw Baah has expressed disappointment in the labour institutions in the country.

Speaking at a labor conference on Monday, Mr. Baah, blamed the recent labour agitation in the country on weaknesses in the labor institutions.

“The recent discrepancies we are witnessing at the labour front are a manifestation of economic hardship workers are going through. Many industrial disputes remain unresolved due to the weaknesses in our labour administration institutions, especially in National Labour Commission (NLC), Fair Wages and Salaries Commission and the Labour Department,” he said.

He added that labour laws do not protect employees in the country therefore the need for government to have them reviewed.

“Currently just about 1.7 million Ghanaians in the workforce have access to pension or registered under SSNIT. Even those who are employed in the formal sector a very significant number of employers have refused to either register their employees with SSNIT or they have refused to pay their contrinbution,” he said.

According to him, the labour institutions in the country lack “the necessary human and material resources to deal with the multiplicity of challenges which lead to intractable labour disputes.”

He noted that when these institutions are supported financially, they would be empowered to deal with the difficulties in the institutions.

Dr Baah further revealed that the mining giant, Newmont, intends to declare mass redundancy in the coming days.

The labour front since the beginning of the year has been in turmoil with workers demanding better conditions of service.

The University Teacher Association of Ghana, UTAG, Civil and Local Government Workers Association, CLOGSAG and a host of others have been agitating for better pay.

Meanwhile, Employment, and Labour Relations Minister, Ignatius Baffour Awuah has warned the current labour agitations could have an impact on the security of the nation if not well handled.

News

Government determined to find a satisfactory solution to UTAG strike – Akufo-Addo

President Akufo-Addo has reaffirmed the commitment of government to find a lasting solution to the prevailing strike action by the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG).

He said this is important, to end the industrial action which has has lingered since the beginning of the academic year in January.

“Government is determined to find a satisfactory solution to this impasse, and ensure that the academic calendar is not, substantially, derailed,” he said.

Speaking at the National Labour Conference on Monday, February 28, 2022, at Kwahu Nkwatia, in the Eastern Region, The President, whilst expressing his appreciation for the relative peace prevailing on the industrial front, stated that more needs to be done to strengthen the rapport between tripartite partners for greater cooperation.

Government determined to find a satisfactory solution to UTAG strike - Akufo-Addo

He said, “the best forms of negotiations are those in which both parties to the dispute exhibit good faith within the context of what is affordable and equitable.

Government determined to find a satisfactory solution to UTAG strike - Akufo-Addo

“I continue to hope that our dons will see this in that light, and help bring the impasse to an end so that the education of our young people can resume in serenity”.

He assured Members of Organised Labour of government’s commitment to addressing their concerns at all times. The President appealed to them to give enthusiastic support and co-operation to government’s programme of economic recovery.

Government determined to find a satisfactory solution to UTAG strike - Akufo-Addo

“Government is determined to work with all stakeholders to see us through this crisis, and all the challenges it has brought in its wake. Government will continue to demonstrate the ability, resolve and determination to change the trajectory of our economy in order to help us recover faster from the effects of COVID-19. Our commitment to transform the economy with great urgency, should be the guiding principle of all social partners,” he said.

Government determined to find a satisfactory solution to UTAG strike - Akufo-Addo

To this end, the President was expectant that discussions at the parallel sessions of the Conference would be informed by the real situation on the ground.

“This will enable us manage our expectations going forward. Nonetheless, and as has been the practice, government would continue to dialogue with you on decisions that are in the best interest of the country, labour and the business community. I look forward to more of such dialogues in the coming months, dialogues that will address the goals of equity, productivity and decent wages,” President Akufo-Addo said.

Government determined to find a satisfactory solution to UTAG strike - Akufo-Addo

He assured that Government will work to advance opportunities for all Ghanaians to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security, and dignity.

“We will continue to work proactively, by implementing programmes and policies, that will protect the citizenry from the consequences of the pandemic,” he added.

News

‘I couldn’t remember anything when I entered class’ – Student recounts first day of lecture after UTAG strike

Lecturers and students of the University of Ghana begin classes for the semester [Photo credit: Radio Univers]

Public universities after almost 2 months of no academic work due to a strike action, resumed lectures on Monday, February 28.

This comes after the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) suspended its strike to comply with a court order to resume work after an injunction was granted to the National Labour Commission (NLC).

The University of Ghana, Legon, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ), among others were affected by the strike action.

JoyNews visited the various campuses to ascertain whether or not lecturers had headed back to the classrooms as directed. A visit to the University of Ghana revealed that teaching and learning took place as expected.

'I couldn't remember anything when I entered class' - Student recounts first day of lecture after UTAG strike
Lecturers and students of the University of Ghana begin classes for the semester [Photo credit: Radio Univers]

Interacting with JoyNews’ Manuel Koranteng, one of the students shared her experience on her first day.

The student indicated that her first day of lectures felt like a clean slate. This is because she had forgotten all that she had learnt. However, during the course of the lectures, she managed to catch up.

“I lost everything. I couldn’t remember anything when I entered class but when he started the lectures, I started following and I got to understand.”

Due to the challenges she faced, she prayed that “they (UTAG) don’t come up with this strike action thing again.”

Some students also expressed uncertainty on whether lectures would come off due to a statement by the UG-UTAG chapter and an immediate reply from the school’s management.

In Kumasi, students of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology also shared their experiences.

A student who interacted with Luv Fm’s Emmanuel Bright Quarcoe expressed joy as he finally got introduced to the course he will be studying in the 2021/2022 academic year.

His class was furnished with the course outline and were provided with details of what would be expected of them.

“It was a very interactive class,” the said student described his first day of lectures.

Others were not fortunate to have their lecturers be with them on their first day. In an Agricultural Biotechnology class, the students were welcomed by a Teaching Assistant (TA).

Meanwhile, the suspension of the strike action by UTAG is expected to last until March 4 as government engages with the Association to meet its demands.

A referendum conducted by UTAG’s National Executive Council showed an overwhelming rejection of the suspension of the strike by UTAG members in the public universities.

The lecturers are expected to consider the outcome within five days according to UTAG regulations.

Coincidentally, the said period falls within the five days that the constitution gives for an injunction to duly elapse.

This provides the Association ample time to make a decision as to whether to resume the industrial action or not; depending on the outcome of negotiations with government and stakeholders.

On the other hand, President Akufo-Addo has assured university lecturers of government’s commitment to finding a lasting solution to their strike action.

Speaking at the 2022 National Labour Conference on Monday, February 28, the President said the government will ensure a satisfactory solution to the impasse to prevent the academic calendar from being derailed.

“The best form of negotiation are those in which both parties in dispute exhibit good faith within the context of what is affordable and equitable. I continue to hope that we will see this in that light and help bring the impasse to an end so that the education of our young people can resume in solemnity. I assure you of government’s commitment in addressing your concerns at all times,” the President noted.