By: Fred Yaw Sarpong- Daily Express
President John Mahama has reiterated that he will not authorise any expenditure on wages and compensation not provided for in the national budget.
According to the President, fiscal discipline requires that not a single pesewa is spent on remuneration outside what has been budgeted for.
“This goes for both Article 71 office holders and those on the Single Spine. It goes for the President as well as the lowest public sector employee. I am determined to hold the line no matter the political cost,” he emphasised.
President Mahama said Ghanaians have sacrificed enough and the nation cannot afford another round of belt tightening after the electoral cycle has come and gone. “And as I said the current IMF Extended Credit Facility must be the last time we fall back on the IMF for respite,” he added.
The President said this at the 80th Anniversary Celebration of the Ghana Registered Midwives Association (GRMA) held in Accra.
He lamented that Government has been in discussion over conditions of service for medical officers. Even while that process is ongoing, the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) directed all Doctors to withdraw service to out-patients in all public facilities.
He observed that the issue of wages and remuneration comes up whenever the nation is getting close to election year and this put pressures on the state and there are temptations to yield to demands by professional groups for increased remuneration.
He mentioned that “in 2012, during the implementation of the single spine, pressures from various groups led to award of interim premiums and other compensatory allowances whose net effect ballooned our remuneration and compensation budget from a little under GHc3 billion to above GHc8 billion. This consumed nearly 73% of total tax revenues in wages and compensation alone.”
He noted that the effects on the economy of that increase in 2012 are still being felt to this day. “We are managing gradually to turn the situation around. We have managed without retrenching any public sector staff to tame the impact of wages and compensation as a percentage of tax revenues from 73% to 49%. Meanwhile, the ECOWAS benchmark for achieving the convergence criteria is 35%.”
“We are dealing with a matter of equity and principle here. There are linkages and relativities between all the public sector groups,” adding that implementing the demands of one group will lead to another group agitation.
“We are dealing with a matter of equity and principle here. There are linkages and relativities between all the public sector groups. Just yesterday a close friend was urging me to intervene and accede to the demand of the doctors. After all there are only 2,800 of them. What he fails to realise is there are 598,000 other public sector workers organized in 11 other professional groups lined up and just waiting to see what the doctors come away from the negotiating table with, to put in their own demands,” said President Mahama.
He categorically stated that this will adversely affect the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP) and could result in breaking the spine.
He said a lot of efforts has gone into implementing this new universal public service salary structure and nothing should be done to derail it. “Ironically I will say if this “spinal cord” should break it must not be at the hands of a group whose principal calling is to heal,” he stated.
“The right to negotiate is sacrosanct and I believe that Government and the medical officers must continue the dialogue on conditions of service to arrive at an amicable resolution in an atmosphere devoid of coercion,” he appealed to the Doctors.
He announced that currently there are other negotiations ongoing on other category of allowances at the Public Service Joint Negotiating Committee (PSJNC), and said that any agreements reached in respect of allowances or conditions of service would have to be appropriately captured in the budget.
He promised that Government will negotiate in good faith and will at all times provide all public workers a transparent manner all the information that enables them to make a determination on what is fiscally possible and what is not. “A healthy economy and a well-motivated public sector inures to the benefit of us all,” said President Mahama.
He urged all public sector workers to rededicate themselves to the letter and spirit of the discussions and conclusions reached in Ho and reiterated recently in Takoradi when they met to discuss as partners, the sustainability of the Single Spine Pay Policy.
He commended midwives and said that their roles are critical in the management of pregnancy, childbirth and the provision of care after birth and childhood.