A National daily minimum wage (NDMW) to reflect the changing economic times is expected to be announced by the end of this month. At a meeting of stakeholders in Accra yesterday, a Deputy Minister of Employment and Social Welfare, Mr Antwi Boasiako-Sekyere, said a speedy conclusion of negotiations on the minimum wage would be in the interest of workers. He said that would also enable the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) to focus on the enforcement of the wage, which is the minimum salary to be paid any worker in the country for work done. At the NTC meeting, to which the media were invited briefly to cover opening statements, Mr Boasiako-Sekyere told the partners that the supreme interest of workers had to be the focus of the negotiations. The Executive Director of the Ghana Employers Association (GEA), Mr Alex Frimpong, in his submission, indicated that the time was right for interest rates to be considered as a factor in reaching the NDMW. He contended that with the announcement of an inflation rate below nine per cent, one would have the right that interest rates would also be affordable for Businesses. However, checks at the Bank of Ghana showed that interbank rates hovered around 26 per cent. Mr Frimpong emphasised that the Labour Law gave backing to the NTC to consider the economic and social indices necessary for taking decisions on the NDMW, for which reason that opportunity needed to be seized and used. The Secretary General of the TUC, Mr Kofi Asamoah, outlined some challenges that needed to be tackled with the negotiations on the NDMW. He mentioned the speedy implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure (SSSS) for all public sector institutions, adding that there seemed to be some intentional delays at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) with the implementation of the SSSS, as institutions were given more tasks to complete when they sent their data for approval to be put on the SSSS. He also wanted the tax exemption threshold on salaries to be discussed, as what was given in the budget was not significant. The acting Chief Director at MoFEP, Dr Alhassan Iddrisu, in response, explained that institutions had to go through some due diligence standards but said that did not necessarily delay the process. Journalists who covered the programme were disappointed, as the meeting, supposedly to announce progress made on the NDMW, was only used to announce the willingness of the social partners to conclude the negotiations and the tabling of work done by a technical committee. The technical committee was set up in November last year to look at the NDMW on the heels of utility tariff hikes in June the same year. The report is thus based on prevailing economic indicators and the increases in utility tariffs last year. Indications gathered from informal interviews with some NTC partners were that while the government would use the single digit inflation as its ace in the negotiations, organised labour would push for salary increases to absorb the up to 30 per cent hike in fuel prices which had led to astronomical increases in transportation costs and the prices of goods.
Source: Daily Graphic