Editorial : National Unemployment Insurance: A good initiative

July 28, 2020 By 0 Comments

Unemployment has been an old age phenomenon across the world and Ghana has not been spared. With a population of over thirty million, the World Bank states that the 2019 unemployment rate in Ghana was 4.3percent.

But the unemployment rate in Ghana is expected to reach 7.3 percent by the end of 2020, according to Trading Economics global macro models and analysts’ expectations.

It is an open secret that the country witnessed the formation of the Unemployed Graduate Association some years back, which used to protest to draw the government’s attention about their predicament.

Though the situation is not nation specific, as all over the world a percentage of people do not have jobs, every effort by governments across the globe to decrease the rate of unemployment must be commended.

It is on the back of the above that The Chronicle welcomes the Akufo-Addo-led government’s decision to have an insurance scheme for the jobless.

Addressing parliamentarians last Thursday on the 2020 mid-year fiscal policy and supplementary estimates, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, indicated that “…Government, through the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, will collaborate with the Social Partners (Labour and Employers) to establish a National Unemployment Insurance Scheme.”

He continued: “The scheme will provide temporary income support to workers that are laid off, and also provide them access to re-training to help them take advantage of employment opportunities in new fields.”

For us, at The Chronicle, we think nobody will object to such a laudable initiative by this government. Without losing sight of the kind of the acrimonious politics being played in this country, it would be in the larger interest of the politicians from both sides of the divide to support this idea.

The effects of unemployment cannot be overemphasised in a country where some jobless youth go to the extent of begging their friends to make ends meet.

Though Ghana will not be the first country to roll out such a policy, every government that plans to have such a laudable programme in place deserves loud applause.

However, we at The Chronicle, despite being happy for this move, are much interested in the roll out of the policy and the sustainability of the scheme.

The leaders of the country have a penchant in conceiving fantastic social intervention policies, but mostly implementation is nothing to write home about, due to the nature of the politics we do here.

Even if they could, politicians would boast that they provide the air we breathe, just so they can win the hearts of the ordinary citizens to vote for them. Most of the time, they result in the improper implementation of good policies.

The Chronicle has never been a paper of doom, especially at a time when the deadly COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc.

In these abnormal times, when businesses have been hard hit by the virus, leading to the layoff of innocent workers, rending them jobless, it is a good step for every government to think of supporting vulnerable people through such a scheme.

The government is yet to present to Parliament the policy document on the intended National Unemployment Scheme. However, The Chronicle would want to suggest to the government to include a robust sustainability plan – one that every successive government would be compelled to follow without undue amendments to suite its political interests.

The Chronicle believes the policy document will spell out the funding source(s) for this initiative.

This funding source, if, indeed will be made known, must be a very reliable one, such that the policy is not brought to its knees in no time for lack of funds.

If possible, the policy document should be such that politicians would not have the luxury to implement it in their favour, but to the benefit of every deserving citizen who falls within the category.

It is worth noting that proper statistics of unemployed Ghanaians would be needed in implementing this policy – the total number of these people and their geographical locations across the country. At this point, a proper database is required – maybe the National Identification Authority can help. This will enable the government know how much it will spend monthly and yearly on the policy.

Like the frontline health workers in this COVID-19 fight, there must be a clear distinction in the implementation of the National Unemployment Insurance Scheme.

Our reason is that whereas some people may have been genuinely dismissed from their work for instance, as a result of this pandemic, others may be just lazy in finding work to do. In these cases, the government should not treat the two with kid gloves. There should be some form of criterion in paying how much to whom.

For us at The Chronicle, if a company which used to pay GH¢1,000 as monthly salary, but because of the COVID-19 pandemic innocent workers are sent home, the government could decide to give these people even GH¢300 or GH¢400 per month as unemployment insurance cover, we will shower blessings on that government.

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