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Opinions of Friday, 9 August 2013

Columnist: Sarpong, Justice

Mahama And NDC Are Confused, Terkper Is Right

Sarpong, Justice

What else do Ghanaians need to realise that they made a mistake when they voted for NDC and Mahama as the President to rule the country ? This administration has no inkling what they are doing and it is really sad when the increase in wage bill of the government has come as a shock to this administration. What did they expect when they tripled workers salaries and wages without corresponding increase in production and revenue? Mahama cannot achieve anything with the SSSS bogeyman hanging around his neck. There is not going to be any New Universities, Regional Hospitals, ten Teacher Training colleges or any new projects as long as we are using more than 70% of government revenue for salaries alone.

During a public forum symposium on the challenges facing this administration due to the SSSS implementation, there was a clear disagreement on a fundamental policy between the President and his Finance Minister when the Finance Minister said that, the SSSS is not sustainable.

According Mr Terkper, the Finance Minister the public sector wages and salaries for this year could reach nine billion Ghana Cedis.The Minister disclosed that Government spent GH¢ 4.3 billion on wages and salaries alone for the first half of this year, representing 70.1% of total national revenue. No government can do anything if it spends even 30% on revenues on salaries let alone 70.1%

"However, the President, who was also at the forum, assured Ghana's public workers that despite serious challenges facing government in the implementation of the pay policy, scrapping it was not an option"

This is a clear fundamental policy difference between the President and his Finance Minister and the Minister ought to resign or get fired not because he is wrong but he has been put in a situation where he cannot succeed. Mr Terkper is right, no economy can survive with more than 70% of government revenue earmarked for wages and salaries especially with our large debt where we have to use about 20% of our budgetry outlay to service our debts as interest due. Ghana is in a very precarious position economically because of this SSSS policy. As long as we continue with this policy as it is now, there will not be a dime to undertake new projects or maintain our existing infrastructure.

When NPP came up with the SSSS policy, it was not meant to drammatically increase workers salaries threefold as NDC implemented this policy.

The main idea behind the SSSS as envisaged by NPP was to streamline government pay scale where people with the same qualification will earn the same salaries and cut the bottlenecks in workers not receiving their salaries in time but Ndc assumed office and changed the implementation of this policy and made it a political issue. They found out they can increase workers salaries nilly-willy and get their votes without thinking about the havoc that this policy will have on the economy and the finances of the government.

Ndc in order to get the Security Agencies behind them tripled the pay of the Police, Army and the other Security Agencies and they were the first to be migrated to the SSSS system. Ndc never thought through the implication of this stupidity since a recruit in the Police service with a high school education by virtue of getting three times what he or she used to earn also made it possible for a new Messenger recruit at the Ministries to receive the same pay as the Police constable since both of them have the same educational qualification. Ndc for whatever reason did not think very well before they stupidly implemented this policy and Ghanaians are paying a very dear price for this politically implemented policy.

Was President Mahama right when he said scrapping the SSSS is not an option? Yes he is right because you cannot give a baby the taste of Ice Cream and take it from him and Ghanaian workers have tasted the high salary the SSSS have given them and there is no way they will easily give it back though higher taxes and levies on goods and services have taken all the benefits higher wages gave them. What then can the government do? There are few options available to the government.

First is to reduce the government workers by at least 50% from the office of the Presidential staff to all the Ministries. Combine some Ministries because a country like Ghana cannot maintain twenty nine Ministries excluding the Regional Ministers. There is no need to have two deputy Ministers at any Ministry or Deputy Regional Ministers are not needed.

Secondary, there are many government agencies and factories that needs to be privatized. Government of Ghana has no business running factorie of any kind. Can you imagine if Government is in full control of Ghana Telecom that was losing money every year with its 6000 or so Employees averaging about 15,000 Ghana Cedis per employee? We are talking close to 90 million Ghana cedis in salaries alone without any productivity.

Third, only about 30% of all Ghanaians working are paying taxes and the government should cast its net wider and make sure it is collecting taxes from at least 70% of all Ghanaians working.

Fourth, Government should sack all Ministers at the Office of the Presidency, they are useless. Fiifi Kwetey is a disgrace to be called a Minister with his childish explanation of why government should not be blamed for the huge wage bill. Who else is to be blamed if not the Politicians? Workers did not implement the SSSS policy but it was People like Fiifi Kwetey who sat down with his like minded fools and saw the political capital they can gain by implementing this policy without thinking about the implications.

The Mills/Mahama era government did create this monumental problem and they have to come up with a bitter medicine to cure it and it is not going to be an easy sell to Ghanaians but their options are limited. I wrote an article almost a year ago predicting what this high wage bill will do to the economy and I reproduce it below, I TOLD YOU SO.

Feature Article of Friday, 5 October 2012

Columnist: Sarpong, Justice

The MP's Pay Increase, The Tsunami Effect

"The Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana have cast doubts on the government's ability to meet fiscal targets. They also pointed out the 67.7% of Ghana's public expenditure on salaries, and said that the salary increases must be matched by increased productivity."

Folks, do we really need 45 more Members of Parliament ? This country of ours is zooming on a high speed into a grand canyon if we don't stop the drunk Driver on the wheels. Do we know what we have just done having added 45 more MP's and given them 130% pay raise? Do we know the Tsunami effect of what we have just done? Do we know the constitutional implication for the stupidity we have wrapped around our necks?

The constitution if my memory serves me right stipulates that, the Members of Parliament pay should be pegged to that of the High court Judges and Deputy Ministers. Right, sit down and take a Q-tip and remove the wax from your ears and listen to me real good. Now all the High Court Judges in the country are also going to receive this 130% pay increase likewise people like Hanna Bissiw, Fiifi Kwetey, Okudzeto Ablakwa, Kobby Acheampong etc are all going to cash in. Folks, this is a constitutional mandate and it triggers in automatically like the 45 created constituencies that automatically became law on Wednesday October 3rd. Now all the Deputy Ministers and the High Court Judges will see their salaries go up by 130% and more likely will be retroactive from January 2009. Where does it stop? Not on the doorsteps of the Deputy Ministers and the High Court Judges if you can guess where I am going.

The Supreme Court Judges are mandated by the constitution to receive higher pay than the High Court Judges so the Supreme Court Judges are also going to receive a pay increase windfall likewise you cannot pay the Deputy Ministers more than the Minister, can you? So all the 40 something Ministers are going to receive their jackpot money.The hummingbird just whisppered in my ears that, the MP's pay is also tied to that of the Communication members at the Castle and if that is the case, then people like Ofosu Kwakye, Boamah Otukonor, Nii Vanderpuije and others can also expect a merry Christmas from Father Christmas or what we in USA call,SANTA CLAUS.

What have we done to ourselves as a country because Kwadwo Afari Djan and a sick President wanted to show where power lies avoid a boycott by the MP'S so he was held hostage by them and Mills was forced to cave in to the demands of the Sharks and Piranhas in Parliament and this is one of the legacies "ASOMDWEHENE" left for us.

Ghana is in trouble if we spend 2/3 of our budget on salaries alone.Despite this known fact, this administration insisted in creating 45 Districts and 45 constituencies to increase government salary expenditures. Now we are going to have Assemblymen and other workers at the district and Constituencies whose salaries are going to add up to the 67.7% we are spending now. With social intervention program expenses and interest on servicing our debts, Ghana is left with less than 15% of our yearly budget to undertake infrastructure development, that is really low. We should be as a third world country be using at least 50% of our budget on developmental projects not 15%. When you expect government to reduce its expenses to have more money to undertake developmental projects, here we are adding about hundred million dollars if not more to government salary expenditure and these pen robbers are telling us we don't have money to give free education to our children but we have money to put it in their protruding beer stomachs.

DO YOU SEE NPP, NDC, CPP, PPP or any alphabetical soup opposing this daytime robbery? When it comes to money, you will not hear any disagreement between the Umbrellas and the Elephants or the CPP Cockreal,what a sad day for Ghana. Not only did they receive 130% pay increase but they made it retroactive from January 2009 that means each MP is owed $110,000, a whopping $25 million salary expense government has added to its bourgeoning salary budget which now stands at 67.7% of government budget outlay. People, don't exhale yet, beginning in January, these MP's will also qualify to take home another $50,000 each as Ex-gratia, that is another $11.5 million expense, almost 40 million dollars these pen robbers called MP's will saddle the poor Taxpayer with.

How can these MP's look in the face of the Watchmen at the Ministries who earn about GH200 a month and tell them they feel their pain? Christmas came early for these thieves and Ghanaian workers should lay down their tools of work and demand these people stop this nonsense or they give them the same 130% pay increase retroactive from January 2009, NO COMPROMISE HERE.

Ghanaian Politicians are not even intelligent or they are blinded by the color of money. This is a time the Rich Mp's should stand up and refuse the pay increase and win the hearts of Ghanaians. The other MP's that call themselves Social Democrats, can they stand up and refuse this bonanza? These fools did not buy a dime of Ghana lottery ticket but have won jackpots.

Kennedy Agyapong, can you stand up and refuse this money? Show that you are rich and don't need this stealing on your RESUME(CV)

Alba Bagbin, will you stand up and refuse a real "BLOOD MONEY"? You damn!! Sister-in-law lover.

Justice Sarpong