30,000 health assistants to be sacked

General News of Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Source: Daily Guide

Elvis Afriyie Ankrah

The National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), which has now metamorphosed into Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA), seems to be in a serious crisis as operators and some officials of government have turned it into a cash cow.

Most of the youth employed under modules like the community education teaching assistants, community policing and health extension workers, popularly known as health assistants, have not been paid in the past eight months because checks by DAILY GUIDE show that operators have taken advantage of the loose monitoring mechanism of the programme to enrich themselves by inserting ‘unprecedented’ numbers of ghost names as beneficiaries on the payroll.

Now it is estimated that about 30,000 youth employed under the Health Extension Workers are to be sacked under the module because there is no money to sustain them under the scheme.

Information reaching DAILY GUIDE indicates that the government, through the National Health Insurance Fund, which provided funds for the payment of allowances for these health assistant, has said it can no longer shoulder that burden.

It has therefore refused to provide funds this year to sustain the module and when that came to the notice of the minority in parliament, it said the stand taken by government was very suicidal because it would go a long to exacerbate the unemployment situation facing the youth in the country.

The government, through the NDC majority in parliament, tried to persuade the minority in parliament on the last day of sitting before parliament adjourned sine die that it should understand the position of government under these serious financial constraints facing the country, especially when the government had to hugely overspend its 2012 budget, creating an unprecedented budget deficit of 12 percent.

“This is an unwise decision by the government because some of us know the government decided to employ these thousands of the youth under the health extension module last year just to persuade them to vote for the party and now after using them you want to dump them,” a Member of Parliament told DAILY GUIDE.

According to the MP, most of the youth who had completed their senior high school education and did not have any hope of continuing their education saw this opportunity as a stepping stone to gain admission into the nursing schools later.

He noted that government had promised to create jobs in 2013 for the teeming unemployed but could not understand why the government was rather deciding to lay off able-bodied youth who had been employed under the NYEP, even though their allowances were meager.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Youth and Sports Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah last week put an embargo on all payments into the bank accounts of GYEEDA.

Announcing the directive, he said, “I have written a letter asking for all payments to the NYEP (now GYEEDA) to be stopped”.

He however said if any payments had to be made, they had to be for only administrative and overhead costs.

This directive was given after an investigative journalist with Joy FM uncovered rot about corrupt deals by some officials of the state-sponsored programme intended to create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth in the country.