The Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) expects the 2024 Budget to be devoted to job creation in both the private and public sectors and reiterates the need for the government to take pragmatic steps to shore up the economy.
It called for the implementation of sound economic policies that will ensure revenue mobilisation, job creation, and private sector development, while appealing to the government to ensure a reduction in the cost of living and remove taxes that undermine the growth of businesses—small, medium, and large companies.
In a paper to the Minister of Finance titled “GFL inputs towards the preparation of the 2024 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government,” it was stated that unemployment remains a national security threat to any country, and Ghana over the years has seen a rise in unemployment, particularly among the youth.
The paper, jointly signed by Mr. Caleb Nartey and Mr. Abraham Koomson, GFL President and Secretary General, respectively, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Tema, said the local textile manufacturing industry used to employ over 25,000 workers.
The GFL paper said the industry had virtually collapsed, leaving less than 2,000 workers in employment now, stressing that the challenges had been unfair competition with imported pirated and smuggled printed cloth.
The Federation said the Finance Ministry granted zero VAT to the sector to help revive the local manufacturing companies, but “unfortunately, the VAT exemption would be terminated by December 2023.
“The recovery of the sector is gradual and has yet to overcome the debilitating challenges to improving employment capacity.
“The GFL submits that an extension of the zero VAT regime for seven years is critical to saving the ailing industry from collapse. The industry currently provides jobs for over 3,000 Ghanaians”.
The GFL also proposed a review of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, particularly Section 25, which provides for an increase in royalty from 6 percent to about 15 percent.
According to GFL, the review must equally apply to the current tax regimes on mining concessions to ensure an increase in government revenue.
“It is the GFL’s honest position that a proper fiscal assessment of the natural resource sector will offer better insight into what opportunities exist for the government to leverage to mobilise the required revenue to prosecute government business.
“The government must be committed to the review of its flagship programmes, such as the Free SHS, Planting for Food and Jobs, One-District, One-Factory, Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme, Ghana School Feeding Programme, Railways Development, Agenda 111, and Coastal Fish Landing Sites.
“Is it the firm position of the Federation that a critical assessment is conducted to determine the viability of these projects with respect to the size of the resources invested and the corresponding short-term benefit to the state?
“Further, the outcome of such a comprehensive assessment should offer some suggestions on protecting the vulnerable in society, creating jobs, and promoting a sound economic and fiscal outlook”.
As part of the preparation for the presentation of the 2024 budget and in line with Section 21(1) of the Public Financial Act 2016 (Act 921), the Ministry of Finance requested that labour unions and identifiable groups submit inputs for consideration in the 2024 Budget and Economic Policy.