Ghost Workers Saga: Finance Minister Apologises for Deleting Genuine Names

The Minister of Finance, Mr. Kenneth Ofori-Attah has rendered an apology to the general public over the ongoing issue of the elimination of ‘Ghana ghost workers’, which saw names of some genuine workers deleted from the payroll.

Recall that some 26, 589 workers were declared ‘ghosts’ after they failed to get registered on the new Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) biometric system. Names of the affected persons were therefore deleted from the payroll; a move that excluded them from receiving salaries for the month of April.

The move was followed by tons of criticisms from various angles, in which the government was accused of wrongfully denying civil servants their salaries. It has also been proven that there are actually genuine workers who were affected in the ‘payroll cleansing’.

The Finance Minister has however, regretted the deletion of names of real public workers in the process of trying to get rid of ghost workers. Speaking on Monday, 15th May, at the National Policy Summit in Accra, Mr. Ofori-Attah justified the payroll cleaning; pointing out that everyone is aware of the existing corrupt practices in the civil service as regards payroll fraud. He however, admitted the need to apologise for the wrongful deletion of names from the payroll in the process of cleaning it up.

Speaking further, the minister revealed that he came to realise that some of the wrongfully deleted names were actually those of workers in his ministry – directors of finance, to be precise. But he explained that the mistakes cannot be compared with the amount of money that the exercise would save the nation if properly carried out. The Finance Minister further noted that the Finance Ministry has no personal interest in individual names, but rather in efficiently ensuring that nobody is allowed to pocket more than what is due to him.

He finally apologised to those who were wrongfully affected, while reiterating the ministry’s commitment to the payroll clean up exercise.

“…I think it will be very embarrassing to realise that your young friend Kojo or Kwame in Elubo is actually able to continue to pay three other people and put that money in his pocket. I’m not sure the labour unions are trying to support that type of action, so we do apologise for those who should not have been in, but I think we should all resolve that we are going to clean up so that individuals do not privatise this business.”

Ghana Ghost Workers, Bio-metric Verification and Payroll Cleaning

The issue of ridding Ghana’s public sector payroll of non-existent workers is not new. Past governments have made attempts to keep the country’s public service payment sheet free of so-called ghost workers. However, they all appear not to have achieved complete success as the issue has continued to rear its ugly head time and again.

Meanwhile, the new Akufo-Addo administration is taking practical and significant steps towards achieving this long time goal. The Finance Minister, during his presentation of the 2017 budget, emphasized government’s commitment to sanitizing the country’s payroll using the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) Bio-metric system.

Some of the advantages of the SSNIT biometric system which was introduced during the Mahama administration to replace the mechanized payroll system include; multiple service delivery channels, reduction of member enrolment cycle time, elimination of multiple member registration, reduction of fraud and easy identity verification.

All civil servants and public sector workers were therefore instructed to ensure that they are registered on the system before the end of March, 2017, to avoid being removed from the payroll. But for some varying reasons, not all workers were registered before the deadline elapsed. Nevertheless, the government kept her word.

Speaking on the occasion of the Workers Day celebration on 1st May, 2017, President Nana Akifo-Addo revealed that 26,589 names have been removed from the payroll in the clean up process. He explained that the move is going to save the nation about GHC433 million annually.

But government’s action has now been faulted as a result of inaccuracy. The wrongfully affected workers are just hoping that in addition to the apology already rendered, the errors will be rectified as soon as possible to enable them receive their outstanding salaries.

Are you one of the workers that were declared ghosts, or do you know anyone who was affected? Please, we would love you to share your experiences with us at the comment session below.