Public sector lacks essential staff – ActionAid report reveals

A new report from ActionAid Ghana, a non-governmental organization, has found that although Ghana’s public sector payroll has grown significantly over the past decade, it has not held critical positions in the public sector.

He mentions areas of critical need such as education and health.

ActionAid Ghana Acting Country Director John Nkaw, in a speech read on his behalf at the launch of the report in Accra, said that “wage constraints in the public sector undermine human rights, block human rights. achievement of sustainable development goals and advancement of rights.

These deadly measures have left countries ill-prepared for COVID-19 and the climate crisis ”.

He therefore called on the government to end austerity policies, saying: “We all need a single voice to echo our concerns that now is the time to end austerity – to respond to the interconnected crisis of COVID-19, climate, inequality and regression of women’s rights.

Report

Entitled: “The Public Versus Austerity: The Wage Bill Constraints,” the report analyzes trends in public sector payrolls in the education and health sectors and the freeze or depreciation of wages, as well as trends. of the overall public sector wage bill as a percentage of government budget, revenue or gross domestic product (GDP).

It also examines the links between Ghana’s debt service and the public sector wage bill and how these relate to advice from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The report highlights the rapid increase in the country’s public debt, against a backdrop of declining GDP growth, further indicating an emerging debt crisis for the country.

The situation, he points out, has the potential to affect the provision of essential gender-sensitive social services such as health, education, social protection, sanitation and water.

Mr Nkaw said that over the past 40 years austerity policies have led to downsizing in the public sector, which has undermined the ability of governments to deliver quality public services.

Payroll

The report observed that the government’s inability to absorb more public sector workers resulted from growing rigidities in the budget due to sharp increases in debt service, especially with regard to interest payments.

He said the real payroll increased steadily from 2016 to 2020 and doubled between 2016 and 2020.

In 2016, for example, the real wage bill was GH ¢ 10 billion, while 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 recorded GH ¢ 12.7 billion, GH 15.6 billion, GH ¢ 18.1 billion, respectively. GH ¢ and 22.4 billion GH.

He also observed that Ghana spent around 39% of its average domestic revenue on wages during the period 2016-2020.

He pointed out that while the proportion of the wage bill in tax revenue had increased at a much faster rate, its share in total expenditure and GDP had decreased.

Regarding the ratio of payroll to tax revenue, the report indicates that 2020 recorded the highest rate (56.3%), compared to an annual average of 48% over the past five years.

He further said that the pace of growth had not matched the growing need for essential labor required in the public sector, especially in education and health, thus severely affecting service delivery. quality audiences.

Debt service

“Ghana spends 59% of its income on debt service, the second highest in the world,” the report says, suggesting that “this must be suspended in the short term to allow a comprehensive response to COVID-19, then renegotiated to medium term to ensure that debt repayments do not jeopardize public service spending necessary to create public sector recruitment space and achieve the SDGs, ”he said.

“Steps are also needed to push back the IMF policy advice that has pressured the government in recent years to freeze public sector payrolls, compromising the ability to employ more teachers, doctors, nurses, etc. caregivers to respond to COVID-19 and other essentials. frontline staff, ”he added.

He said that “the percentage of government revenue spent on debt servicing (over 40 percent between 2016 and 2019 and over 55 percent in 2020) far exceeds the IMF’s sustainable threshold of 12 percent and the limit by 18 percent by IMF country. for Ghana ”.

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