Nana Addo’s May Day Address bothered mainly on the various challenges confronting the country and the possible ways out.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo gave his first may day Address as the President of the Republic of Ghana on Monday, 1st May, 2017. The 2017 Workers’ Day celebration which was themed “Ghana 60 Years On: Mobilizing for Future Through the Creation of Decent Jobs”, was held at the Black Star Square. Issues discussed in Nana Addo’s May Day Address bothered mainly on the current challenges bedeviling the country and the targeted solutions to them.
Below are some of the important issues touched by the President in his workers’ day celebration speech.
Bad Attitudes of Present-Day Workers
President Nana Addo seized the opportunity of the May Day celebration to expose the very ugly side of Ghanaian workers as regards their attitudes to work. While acknowledging the calls on the government from Labour Associations for better working conditions, the President reprimanded the workers for failing to look into the lapses in their own delivery at work places. The president speaks:
“Whilst the government has work to do, we have to accept that the workforce must accept its responsibility and contribute its part. I do not suggest that current pay levels are satisfactory in all sectors of our economy, but I am saying that productivity levels and work attitudes are unsatisfactory in all levels of the economy.
Some of those workers of old would not recognise the present day practices at our workplaces. Ghanaian artisans, for example, used to have an enviable reputation around the region. Our carpenters, masons, mechanics, plumbers, tailors were much sought after. They took pride in their work and improved upon their own set standards every time they took on a new job.
How come that old, very old classroom blocks withstand storms and heavy rainfall, whilst the roofs of nearby, newly built ones are ripped off regularly? How come that we build roads that are expected to last for at least five years and they do not make it through one rainy season before they fail and pot holes appear? The President queried.
We arrive at work late and then spend the first hour in prayer; we are clock watchers and leave in the middle of critical work, because it is the official closing time. Everything comes to a stop when it rains and we seem to expect the rest of the world also to stop. We have no respect for the hours set aside for work… we pray, we eat, we visit during working hours. We spend hours chatting on the telephone when customers are waiting to be served, thereby increasing our labour costs. We take a week off for every funeral. And then we wonder why we are not competitive.
The service that we provide in our hospitality industry does not match that of our competitors and many of us have sadly come around to accept poor service as the norm. There is a particularly pernicious attitude to property that we find at work. There is the petty stealing of paper, envelopes, tea, milk and other equipment. There is the reckless use of office vehicles. Employees show no inclination to protecting the things that are in the offices and factories, and extreme reluctance to stand up for what we know to be right in our workplaces in general.
If we are going to make the changes we all want, then we have to start with a change in attitude to work. Government is ready to do its part, and I am counting on you, Secretary General, to lead the campaign for a change in attitude to work and increase in productivity.”
Elimination of Ghost Workers
President Akufo-Addo revealed that 26,589 names have been suspended from the payroll for failing to show up for their biometric verification, while indicating that this will save the nation over GHC433 million annually.
Through a payroll audit conducted by the Ministry of Finance, under the impressive leadership of Ken ofori-Atta, in the last two months, some twenty six thousand five hundred and eighty nine workers’ salaries have been suspended from the April 2017 payroll. These “workers” have not come forward to be biometrically verified by SSNIT, despite numerous calls by the Controller and Accountant General to do so.
The idea of biometric verification is essentially to isolate ghost names from the payroll. The cost of maintaining these twenty six thousand five hundred and eighty nine names on government payroll is thirty six million, one hundred and sixty six thousand, two hundred and three Ghana cedis per month. This means that Government stands to save the country over four hundred and thirty three million Ghana cedis on this year’s budget alone by this exercise.
Other efforts aimed at cleaning the payroll being undertaken by government include:
1. a new payment system that will integrate the GHIPSS payment platform for salaries to be paid directly to workers without any manual intervention, as has always been the case. This will be implemented on a test basis this month and envisaged to cover finally all workers in June 2017.
2. SSNIT has also been asked to create a separate database for the Controller, by biometrically registering close to two hundred thousand CAP30 workers. Government payroll will now have a direct interface with this and the existing database, thus reducing payroll fraud to the barest minimum. This will provide a complete end-to-end visibility of the entire payroll system, while having a seamless integration between payroll cost and the government’s general ledger.”
Job Creation and Formalization of Skills
The President reiterated his intention to create a greater percentage of jobs using the private sector. According to him, “a vibrant private sector can create so many more jobs than the public sector”. Indicating that the size of the country’s workforce is about 13 million, Nana Addo expressed the need to bring more of our people into the formal sector since less than 2 million people are in the formal work which is the group that receives the most attention.
Nana Addo said that the first thing to be done “must be to get our economy out of the doldrums and create the atmosphere for our entrepreneurs to bring on the jobs”. He also indicated that government is committed to ensuring that the target of 750,000 direct and indirect jobs earmarked under the planting for food and jobs will come to fruition.
The President pointed out the need to modernize and strengthen Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions, as well as to formalize all forms of apprenticeships and master craftsmanship to promote entrepreneurship. Through these new areas of commitment, government intends to address the long prevailing skills mismatch between majority of school leavers and industry requirements. According to him, the curriculum of skills development and job learning based institutions will also be tailored to suit current industrial needs, both at the enterprise level and the job market.
Touching the much prominent issue of illegal mining, the president said that government is “not fighting to put people out of work by seeking to end galamsey. Since the Almighty blessed us with precious minerals, there will be mining in our country. But this present generation does not own the earth, we hold the lands in trust for generations yet unborn and we cannot destroy it. We are arranging for small-scale mining to be conducted in a sustainable manner.
All the indications are that the galamseyers, those who undertake the hazardous and tedious work, do not in fact make much money, as they are routinely cheated from getting a fair price for the gold they find. We are, therefore, encouraging the establishment of gold refineries, which will pay fair prices to the miners. The sustainable small-scale mining regime we envisage will protect our environment and protect the workers as well.”
The President also appreciated the support and role being played by the media in the fight against “galamsey”. According to him, “the media, with the overwhelming support of all well-meaning citizens, have given true meaning to the call for all “to be citizens and not spectators”.
President Nana Addo warned all who are involved in Child Labour in one way or the other to desist from the acts which he described as “shameful”, as they will soon be made to face the law and other general consequences.
“It is worth pointing out that, if we do not stop these shameful practices, there are global agencies that have determined to institute punitive measures against us in some critical industries, which would lead to the loss of markets for our goods and the loss of jobs.”
He however, promised that during his tenure, government will work with all partners towards the goal of eliminating child labour, especially that of forcing children into fishing and illegal mining activities. He further warned that child labour and child trafficking are not only crimes, but also now pose veritable threats to our national security.
Nana Addo also acknowledged the efforts of his wife, Rebecca, who has been speaking out against the evil of child labour and child trafficking, and has as well signed a memorandum with Cote d’Ivoire to that effect.
Calls for Total Change in Behaviour
President Akufo-Addo concluded by calling on all to change their ways of life in other to move the nation forward.
“Fellow Ghanaians, I want all of us in Ghana to turn over a new leaf, to turn a new page in the history of our nation. I want us to believe in our capacity to build a modern, developed, progressive nation, and free ourselves from the mindset of dependence, aid, charity and handouts. We can, together, build a new Ghanaian civilization, where there is fair opportunity for all in education and health, where hard work, enterprise and creativity are rewarded, where there is an abundance of decent jobs with good pay, where there is a dignified retirement for the elderly, and where there is a social safety net for the vulnerable and disadvantaged.”
The President sincerely hopes that workers will heed his advice and work with utmost determination, towards a better Ghana.