Ghana: Opposition questions planned post 2016 election public service cuts

Ghana's leading opposition party has decried the West African country's rising unemployment rate and demanded both government and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) be open about plans to lay-off workers after the 2016 elections.


The West African country committed itself, under a $918 million IMF bailout programme it adopted, to lay off workers after the 2016 elections, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) said, "but they will not admit it today if you ask them".

Ghanaian authorities are required to rationalise the size of the civil service under the programme, which the opposition claimed the government agreed to.


On this issue, we demand maximum transparency from the government and the IMF



According to the opposition, the plan to cut down public workers will be ready this month, while implementation is projected to begin in 2017.


"On this issue, we demand maximum transparency from the government and the IMF," former deputy central bank governor and vice presidential candidate of the NPP, MahamuduBawumia, told journalists on Wednesday.


"If the plan for the rationalisation of the size of the civil service – that is layoffs – would be ready in December 2015, why wait till 2017 for implementation," he said.


"Isn't this reform supposed to help this struggling economy, why the delay in implementing it if it is so good for the economy.


"The government is not being transparent on this issue because it does not want workers to know the truth about what they have agreed to do before the election in 2016.


"We are, therefore, asking that the plan for the rationalisation of the size of the civil service be made public by both the government and the IMF in the spirit of transparency and accountability."


The opposition also expressed regret that after two terms in office the government had failed to tackle unemployment, decline in the agriculture sector and the rising cost of living.


The country faces chronic power problems, which have forced many businesses to cut jobs, its debt is nearly 74 per cent of GDP, interest rates are rising, as depreciation of the cedi continues all this coupled with climbing fiscal and balance of payments deficits.


The government has put Ghana in a state of high indebtedness, as was the case under highly indebted and poor countries, economic growth has slowed down to 4 per cent this year, Bawumia said.


"As a matter of policy, Ghana should move away from aid dependency," he said.


"For how long are we going to be beggars, beggars have no respect; if we manage our resources properly we would not have to rely on foreign aid.


"We will depend on ourselves through sound policies, fiscal discipline and trade and investment promotion. With sound economic policies, we can do it ourselves. The current IMF programme should be Ghana's last."


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