President Nana Akufo-Addo has reaffirmed the commitment of government to bring to an end the strike action embarked upon by members of the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG).
Addressing the National Labour Conference yesterday at Kwahu Nkwatia, in the Eastern Region, he expressed appreciation for the relative peace prevailing on the industrial front. He said more needs to be done to strengthen the rapport among tripartite partners for greater cooperation.
“This is important, in the wake of the recent six-week strike action by the University Teachers’ Association of Ghana (UTAG). Government is determined to find a satisfactory solution to this impasse, and ensure that the academic calendar is not, substantially, derailed,” he assured.
He pointed out that the best form of negotiations are those in which both parties to the dispute exhibit good faith within the context of what is affordable and equitable.
“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 said.
President Akufo-Addo assured members of Organised Labour of government’s commitment to addressing their concerns at all times. He appealed to the members to give enthusiastic support and co-operation to Government’s programme of economic recovery.
“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 added.
He said government would continue to dialogue with the Labour Council on decisions that are in the best interest of the country, labour and the business community. He added that he expects more of such dialogues in the coming months, saying such dialogues should address the goals of equity, productivity and decent wages.
He assured that Government would work to advance opportunities for all Ghanaians to obtain decent and productive work in conditions of freedom, equity, security, and dignity.
Touching on the controversial Electronic Transactions Levy (E-Levy), the President emphasised that the levy will expand the tax base for sustained development and reduction of the country’s debt burden.
He described the proposed E-Levy as an innovative fiscal measure which will help improve the country’s tax-to-GDP ratio on an equitable basis.
“I believe strongly that it is in the public interest that it should be enacted into law. We cannot continue to live forever on foreign savings. Those who are concerned about our debt burden are right to focus on it as a major pre-occupation,” he said.
He added: “It is time we accepted the full implications of our goal of Ghana Beyond Aid, and designed our fiscal profile accordingly. The Asian Tigers, whom we envy and want to emulate, financed their rapid development from their own savings. We need to do the same.”
The President explained that an economy in which only a small proportion of the population bears the brunt of direct taxation is unlikely to witness any rapid transformation.
“We have to make concerted efforts as Partners to hasten our recovery from COVID-19 by finding intelligent ways of bringing everyone on board to contribute their quota, no matter how small. Government, on its part, is implementing a policy of cutting the budgets of ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) by 20% this year, as its contribution to measures to ensure fiscal consolidation,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo explained that Ghana’s tax-to-GDP ratio of 12.2 percent compares unfavourably with the rest of the world, as the average tax-to-GDP ratio in West Africa stands at 18%, and the average for OECD countries standing at 34 percent.
“It is, thus, no wonder that American, German, French, Japanese and British peoples, amongst others, can readily find the means to fund their own development, particularly their infrastructural development, whereas we are constantly struggling to do the same,” he said.
President Akufo-Addo stressed that there is an urgent need to enhance significantly the nation’s capacity for domestic revenue mobilisation to realise our development potential, create opportunities for the vibrant and dynamic youth, and deliver improved livelihoods for the citizenry.
Such noble vision, he believed should be appreciated by citizens and accordingly accepted as normal.