Mahama is not opposed to decent public sector wages: Sulley Gariba
A Senior Policy Advisor at the Office of the President has rejected suggestions that the President is opposed to the principle of paying public sector workers a decent wage.
In his state of the nation’s address before parliament on Thursday February 21, President John Mahama said: “the rate of growth of the wage bill has reached a point where they are squeezing out critical investments in the budgetary allocation of goods and services and capital expenditures”
He also said, “the meat is now down to the bones, and it is time for serious rethinking about the level of wages in relation to our national competiveness and the related productivity issues” and that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”
When queried on JOYNEWS Current Affairs Program pm:EXPRESSS on Multi TV, about exactly what the President meant, Dr. Sulley Gariba said; the comments on the persistent wage increase demands were to throw a challenge to public sector workers that they must appreciate the toil of those who contribute in taxes to pay them their wages.
He said; “ordinary citizens of this country, especially poor farmers, have now made the supreme sacrifice of actually giving public sector wages nearly 70% – 7 pesewas of each cedi collected from the toiling people of this country, the real productive people… and he is basically challenging public sector workers that: is this still not enough? But at the same time as they are getting 70% on every cedi collected from the poor people, their productivity is not commensurate”
Dr. Gariba maintained that the President was throwing a national challenge to all stake holders – minority, opposition and the governing party, that they have to sit down to settle on a formula to set up a ceiling.
He disagreed with suggestions that the president failed to clearly spell out any strategy to enhance productivity in the public sector.
“The second is very pointed productivity enhancement measures in agriculture, in tourism and in industry, especially focusing on the private sector… In fact throughout the presentation, he kept going back and forth to the private sector to tell Ghanaians that it’s not all that gloom, making references to Kumasi Airport for example, to throw a challenge that as there is an outburst of private sector productivity there is no commensurate increase in productivity in the public sector”; he said.
According to Dr. Gariba, the President only meant to throw a challenge to say “we’ll soon need to explore more decentralized forms of management for some of the public conglomerates to make them more accountable in delivering services faster to ordinary citizens”.
“He (the President) threw a challenge to the citizens themselves that the lack of productivity, the complacency in the public sector is both a result of inefficiency and the lack of citizen engagement: to demand more accountability to say to ECG or Ministry of Health, ‘we are paying so much in service…and we demand quality”, he continued.
Productivity in the Public Sector has been a major concern for various governments under the Fourth Republic, culminating in the establishment of a Ministry for Public Sector Reforms, headed by Dr. Papa Kwasi Nduom during the administration of President Kuffour.
Public Sector wage demands since the introduction of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) by the Fair Wages and Salary Commission has gone up with increased agitations from various labour unions over one thing or the other.
As Senior Policy Advisor at the Presidency, Dr. Gariba said on authority that “these are issues he (the President) intends to tackle but is also throwing the challenge to all Ghanaians to “get on this and be aware that when the next strike is being called let’s scrutinize what we are paying and what we are getting in return. Why is it that after paying 70%, we are still held at ransom every day for more and more, and that the meat is finished and we cannot start to chew the bones because ordinary citizens deserve better”
A leading member of the forum for Justice and Governance, Dr. Samuel Buame, who was also on the show, in assessing the State of the Nation’s Address, said, he agreed with critics that the speech sounded a bit more futuristic.
“I heard more of ‘we’ll do we’ll do’, and coming from the background of a strategist, I would have expected him to analyze the environment for us, both internal and external, and tell us maybe about his vision, alongside the vision of the populace. Then from there, as leader of the state, he can now say, this is how I’ll take you there”, he said.
The president’s presentation, for the first time in the history of State of the Nations addresses, was read from two Teleprompters positioned to his left and right hand sides, making it appear on Television as though he was speaking without a script.
Dr. Gariba lauded the President for demonstrating to Ghanaians his dexterity with technology with the use of tablets to set an elaborate agenda for the next four years in approximately an hour and 20 minutes.
He admitted though that “the density was getting to be a bit too long, and the slight increase in pace was to get everyone on board”.
The full version of pm:EXPRESS on Thursday February 21 could be found at the following link: http://videos.myjoyonline.com/pages/videos/201302/1266.php