The president of the National Association of Graduate Teachers (NAGRAT), Mr Angel Carbonu, has said the teachers he represents are disappointed by a decision by the Finance Ministry against huge wage increases for the next few years.
During a discussion on the 2021 budget organised by the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) on Wednesday, the Technical Adviser at the Ministry of Finance, Dr Samuel Nii Noi Ashong, said: “If you look at the budget, COVID-19 is not expected to abate until the end of 2023 and we’re all looking to be tightening our belts for a while and people should not be expecting huge wage increases in the course of the next few years. This is because we don’t have money to pay for it”, he said.
“You’ll realise that between wages and compensations for employees and unencumbered domestic revenues, if you net off all the mandated transfers which are required by law, talk of GETFund transfers, National Health Insurance, District Assemblies Common Fund (DACF), the rest which is left is not enough to pay for wages and salaries, goods and service, social intervention programmes, that portion alone is not enough to pay for even wages and salaries,” he said.
He said if the government were to cater to all those demands, it “will be left with 40% in the hole and government would have to go and borrow to pay for that extra 40% plus goods and services and other commitments.”
“It is not a rosy picture and let’s call a spade a spade and so when people go on about saying we don’t need the taxes and government must give this and that, the reality is that we don’t have the money”, Dr Ashong added.
Reacting to Dr Ashong’s comment, Mr Carbonu said: “We are very disappointed by the position of the Finance Ministry because before you make an announcement of this nature, you have to convene a public sector wage negotiation committee and let it take a decision.
“On the committee, we have the Ministry of Finance, labour unions, Ministry of Labour and all other stakeholders.
“But for an announcement like this to come when even the government has not come clean with the people to let them know that we are in economic distress and that together as a people, let’s find solutions to this and that; let me tell you that for the past four years, we have never had any salary increase of more than 12 per cent”, he said.
“So, when he is saying that we should be measured, what percentage or within what percentage bracket is he talking about since for the past four years, the highest per cent we got was 12 per cent? Is he talking about 5 per cent? Because in salary negotiations, you just don’t bandy about figures. You bring onto the table, the various economic indices and the realities for a decision to be taken – both as minimum and base pay”, he noted.
The government of Ghana’s total expenditure (including clearance of arrears) is projected at GHS113,750 million, equivalent to 26.2 per cent of GDP for 2021, caretaker Finance Minister Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu told Parliament on Friday, 12 March 2021 when he delivered this year’s budget.
The amount “represents a growth of 13.7 per cent above the outturn of GHS100, 052 million recorded in 2020”.
“Mr Speaker, wages and salaries are projected to amount to GHS25,799 million and constitute 22.7 per cent of the total expenditure (including arrears clearance) for 2021”, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs said.
As a percentage of GDP, the wage bill is projected to be 5.9 per cent in 2021 compared to the 6.5 per cent recorded in 2020.
The Suame MP said the use of goods and services is also projected at GHS5, 967 million or 1.4% of GDP.
It represents 5.2 per cent of the projected total expenditure (including rrears clearance).
Also, he noted, interest payments are projected at GHS35,864 million, equivalent to 8.3 per cent of GDP in 2021.
“Of this amount, domestic interest payments will constitute about 79.1 per cent and amount to GHS28, 368 million. Transfers to statutory funds as well as all other earmarked funds are estimated at GHS18, 081 million (4.2% of GDP), representing 52.2 per cent growth over the recorded outturn for 2020”, detailed.
Capital expenditure is projected at GHS11, 423 million (2.6% of GDP) in 2021, a decline of 5.5 per cent over the 2020 outturn,
“Of this amount, domestic financed capital expenditure is estimated at GHS3, 310 million (0.8% of GDP)”, the lawmaker said.
Further, an amount of GHS8, 112 million has been estimated for foreign-financed capital expenditure and this will be funded by a combination of project grants and loans.
On budget balances and financing operations for 2021, Mr Kkyei-Mensah-Bonsu said based on the estimates for total revenue & grants and total expenditure, the 2021 fiscal operations will result in an overall fiscal deficit of GHS41,298 million, equivalent to 9.5 per cent of GDP.
“Mr Speaker, financing of the fiscal deficit will come from both domestic and foreign sources”, he told Parliament, adding: “Net domestic financing will amount to GHS25,424 million (5.9% of GDP) while net foreign financing will amount to GHS15,870 million (3.7% of GDP) and will include a planned international capital market programme to raise up to US$5 billion, of which US$1.5 billion will be used to support the implementation of the 2021 budget and the rest for liability management”.
“Mr Speaker, a corresponding Primary deficit equivalent to 1.3 per cent of GDP, is also projected for the year”.