Wage Bill Still Headache

A presidential retreat was held at the weekend to review the state of the Ghanaian economy with the view to consolidating the gains so far made and addressing challenges confronting the country. Held at the Peduase Lodge, near Accra, the retreat, attended by President John Dramani Mahama, discussed strategies to manage the spiralling wage bill; evaluated the expected impact of the new tax measures recently approved by Parliament and the Eurobond to be issued this month. A total of GH¢3,606.5 million was paid out in wages and salaries from January to May, representing 22.4 per cent more than the budgeted target of GH¢2,946.2million. Other members of government, who attended the retreat, were the Vice President, Mr Kwesi Amissah-Arthur; Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Tekper; the Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), Dr Kofi Wampah; the Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Bani; Senior Presidential Advisor, Mr P. V. Obeng; Dr Cadman Mills, Mr Baba Kamara and the Executive Secretary to the President, Dr Raymond Atuguba. The economy grew by 6.7 per cent in the first quarter of last year. However, the huge wage bill threatens to erode all economic gains. While there has been improvement in the economy as measured by the growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the relative stability in the inflation rate, analysts say more should be done towards employment creation and improvement in living conditions of a majority of people. A source at the Presidency told the Daily Graphic that President Mahama had directed his team to ensure that all projects expected to be funded with the Eurobond were ready to take off by August when the funds from the bond would be released. The $1 billion Eurobond is to be used as counterpart funding for some identified projects, refinance of the $750 million Eurobond floated in 2008, retire domestic bonds and for capital expenditure.