Editorial: Mahama, Duffuor should learn from history

Dr Kwabena Duffuor, Former Finance Minister has reportedly called on the government to do away with what he describes as the current starvation wages and endeavour to pay living wages to Ghanaian workers henceforth. According to a story published by citinewsroon.com, Dr Duffuor whilst praising the Ghanaian worker in his May Day message also called for economic justice to prevail in the ongoing labour agitations for better working conditions.

“May Day is an opportunity to celebrate the tireless work of the men and women whose labour sustains our nation. On days such as this, it is important that we reflect on the contributions of workers to our national development, but it is most essential that we seize the opportunity to stand in solidarity with our labour force and on the side of economic justice”.

“In a country where productivity does not equate to real wage, we breed a culture of labour theft and unrest. Workers deserve wages commensurate to their hours of labour. But at a time when inflation continues to rise, yet our last salary increment was 4% in 2020, real wages have drastically lost their value,” the online portal quoted him as saying.

The Chronicle agrees with the former finance minister that the Ghanaian worker deserves better pay, but we are against the apparent hypocritical stance inherent in his statement. In 2009 when Dr Duffuor was the Finance Minister, inflation rate in Ghana was 19.25%. It whittled down to 10.71% in 2010 and 8.73% in 2011. The big question is: did Dr Kwabena Duffour tell the Ghanaian worker that because inflation is 19.25, I am going to give you salary increment of 19.25%?

If the former Governor of Bank of Ghana did not say this at the time, why he is he saying now that “real wages have drastically lost their value” because of inflation and that workers must be paid living salary and not starvation salary?  Did he pay a living salary during his tenure of office? Did President Mills not tell Ghanaian workers to exercise patience and stop the excessive demand?

As we have already indicated, we are NOT in any way trying to justify the current salary the Ghanaian worker is receiving at the end of each month – it is not the best, we admit.  Our concern however, is the way politicians behave when they are seeking to lead this country.

As we put this piece together, Former President Mahama is also quoted as saying that he would abolish the E-Levy Act when he becomes president of Ghana again. These are some of the statements Presidents Kufuor and Atta Mills made when they were opposition leaders, but later have to eat a humble pie when they assumed office. President Kufuor criticised his predecessor, Jerry Rawlings, for appointing so many ministers. But when Ghanaians voted for him, he went beyond the number of ministers appointed by the previous government.

President Mills similarly promised to reduce fuel prices drastically, but when Ghanaians gave him the mandate to lead them, he could not fulfil this promise. One would have, therefore, thought that President Mahama has learnt a useful lessons from these two political blunders,but he is organising lectures and telling Ghanaians that he would repeal the E-Levy Act. Looking at the economic situation prevailing in the country, where is Mr Mahama going to get the money after repealing the Act to run the country if Ghanaians give him the mandate?

As President Akufo-Addo did whilst in opposition, he criticised the introduction of Value Added Tax (VAT) and this forced the Rawlings government to reduce the threshold. When the New Patriotic Party (NPP) assumed office in 2001, they did not abolish the tax because it was generating revenue for the state. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) led by Mr Mahama has also criticised the E-Levy and the Akufo-Addo government has reduced the threshold.

This, in our view, should have ended the battle, but because of desperation for power, Mr Mahama is promising something that would come back to haunt he himself in future.  Should we tread on this path if we are genuinely looking for the development of mother Ghana? Well, we live to see.


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