ICU cautions gov’t against excessive spending

The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) of the TUC has urged government to slow down its excessive spending on some development projects that cannot give returns within the stipulated time but are just for political expediency.

“In the past 4 years the country’s debt stock has increased by a whopping US$80billion, thus widening the gap of GDP to debt ratio: this aside from all the key institutions in the country — the Volta River Authority (VRA), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO), Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and furthermore the ministries — are full of toxic debts,” said Mr. Solomon Kotei, General Secretary of ICU, when he spoke with the media in Accra.

Mr. Kotei touched on a wide range of pertinent economic issues and explained that if the rate of borrowing and spending by the government is not reduced to the minimum, it may have serious repercussion on the lives of the citizens.

He said the utility companies have no justification to increase tariff at all, since previous hikes have not seen any proportional improvement in their services and customers continue to pay for such poor services.

He said, for instance, some industrial concerns within the ICU were paying GH¢40,000 a year on power from ECG, but this amount shot up to GH¢105,000 without any corresponding improvement in its service delivery.

Mr. Kotei said the tariff however compelled some institutions to become vulnerable and subsequently had to fold-up and cited Weinco, which was closed down in 2014 as a result of high tariff vis-a-vis its returns, 13 staff lost their lives as a result.

The ICU General Secretary said the National Labour Commission needs to be decentralised for each of the 10 regions to an office that speedily resolves labour issues; the situation were the whole country with about 27 million people has only one office in Accra to handle the huge labour issues is preposterous.

He says the worst of it is that Commissioners at the Commission are part-time officers, and the result of this is that a lot of cases cannot be disposed of within a reasonable time.

Moreover, the Commission — which has the status of a High Court but no enforceable powers — is rendered impotent to settle labour disputes speedily and amicably as enshrined in its mandate.

Mr. Kotei concluded that the perception in the public domain that he is anti-government and always resorts to demonstrations rather than having a dialogue with it is baseless: “As a leader of a very powerful labour union, I have prerogative to fight for the rights and dignity of my workers when the need arises”.