. Govt promises IMF in a Letter of Intent
THE hopes of thousands of Ghanaians, especially the youth and unemployed graduates, to secure jobs in public sector institutions in 2017 has been dashed as government has pledged to strictly enforce compliance with the policy of net freeze on recruitment.
The move, according to government forms part of measures to reinforce its strict expenditure control to ensure that the wage bill remains within the approved budget limits.
The net freeze on recruitment is contained in a Letter of Intent, Memorandum of Economic and Financial Policies, and Technical Memorandum of Understanding Ghana sent to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in September 2016 requesting the IMF Executive Board to complete the third review of Ghana’s Extended Credit Facility (ECF) arrangement and approve the disbursement of the fourth tranche of the loan based on the satisfactory implementation of performance criteria (PC).
The 51-page letter dated September 16, 2016 was addressed to Ms. Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the IMF.
The letter was jointly signed by Finance and Economic Planning Minister, Seth Emmanuel Terkper and Governor of Bank of Ghana, Dr Abdul-Nashiru Issahaku.
$918 m bailout package
Government agreed to a $918 million loan package with the IMF in April last year to narrow its budget gap and halt the decline of the currency.
In the 3-year bailout programme, the IMF wants Ghana to reduce public sector wage bill to 35 percent of government revenue by 2017 as part of a plan to restore macroeconomic stability.
With a little of over two months to enter 2017, this objective is far from being achieved.
Wage bill ratio to tax revenue is 49.2%
According to the letter to IMF, government said the wage bill ratio to tax revenue is 49.2 percent as at the end of 2015.
To achieve the 35% wage bill ratio to tax revenue, government was to strictly enforce a net freeze on employment this year as well as downsize the public next year.
Some economic and social analysts say downsizing the public sector as contained in the three-year programme will effectively lead to retrenchment as the public sector is believed to be over bloated with staff but the government rejected any suggestion of job losses.
Rightsizing of public sector
In the new letter of intent, there is no mention of rightsizing the public sector, which raises questions of how government intends to achieve 35% wage bill ratio to tax revenue.
The fear of losing jobs in the public sector has the potential to influence public sector workers to vote against the incumbent government and, therefore, the failure to include rightsizing in the letter of intent could be a strategic decision.
Impending demonstrations for jobs
The government to assume office in January 2017 faces a lot of demonstrations from the thousands of unemployed Ghanaians as has been seen this year by several groups including, newly-trained teachers, fresh nurses, fresh doctors, among others, if the net freeze on recruitment into the public sector is strictly enforced.
Wage bill to rise further
Even if the government strictly enforces the net freeze on recruitment, the wage bill ratio to tax revenue is likely to rise above the 49.2 percent achieved at the end of last year.
This is because government is recruiting thousands into the health and education sectors, as well as the security agencies.
Though the recruitment is good news, in light of the revelation by the World Bank that 48% of Ghanaian youth are unemployed, it has the potential to shake the very foundation of government’s three-year bailout programme with the IMF aimed at stabilising the troubled economy.
Reducing the public sector wage bill to 35 percent of government revenue by 2017 is seen as the nerve centre of the three-year IMF bailout programme because a bulging wage bill was the main reason government cited to apply for the programme.
GOVT OPENS EMPLOYMENT FLOODGATES
YEA recruits 70,000
The Youth Employment Agency (YEA) has, so far, hit 70% of its target of recruiting about 100,000 new recruits into the various modules.
This includes 1,347 unemployed graduates of the School of Hygiene to been be deployed to various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies (MMDAs) before May 2, when they are expected to start work.
Emerging figures indicate that not less than 10,000 names will be added to the wage bill from ongoing employment into the public sector.
2,400 Math and Science teachers for GES
The Ghana Education Service (GES) has announced that it has been granted the financial clearance by the Ministry of Finance to recruit 2,400 teachers who will teach Mathematics and Science in senior high schools.
4,799 Health workers employed by Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Health has recruited and posted 4,799 nurses, psychiatry nurses, enrolled nurses, community nurses and midwives who graduated in 2014 and 2015 to various health facilities in Ghana.
The categories of persons employed are as follows: Registered Midwives – 1,268; Registered Community Nurses – 56; Registered General Nurses (Psychiatry) – 507; Health Assistant Clinical – 321; Registered General Nurses – 2,389; and Community Health Nurses – 258.
1,018 Lecturers recruited
A total of 1,018 lecturers have been recruited as requested but the universities say the number is woefully inadequate.
Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) – 2,000 recruits
Last year, the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) recruited 2,000 personnel, but 500 were sacked from training due to insubordination.
Even though GAF has not disclosed the number of personnel to be recruited this year, sources say it is likely another 2,000 personnel would be recruited.
Ghana Police Service – 1,000
The Ghana Police Service, which has commenced its first recruitment in three years, is likely to recruit 1,000 personnel and officers.
The service is yet to disclose the total number of personnel to be recruited.
Ghana Prisons Service – 500 recruits
The Ghana Prisons Service, which has been understaffed for years, is expected to recruit more than 500 personnel.
GNFS and GIS – 1,000 recruits
Ghana National Fire Service and Ghana Immigration Service are also recruiting personnel each of the services is to recruit not less than 500 staff.
70,407 NSS personnel
The National Service Secretariat (NSS) has released placements for 70,407 prospective national service personnel for the 2016/2017 service year.
The service personnel, who have been deployed to both the private and public sectors, are from 137 tertiary institutions across the country as well as those who have completed their studies abroad.
These people would complete their service in July 2017 and begin to seek employment but the public sector will have not jobs to offer.
6 Months NSS extension due to no jobs
The NSS has announced an optional six months extension to service personnel who have completed their service in July, this year, but wish to be redeployed for additional duties primarily because they cannot secure jobs.
These six months would end in March 2017 and the personnel involved would have to seek for jobs.
By Elvis DARKO, Accra