The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority Caucus in Parliament said public servants are justified in asking for increase in wages and salaries, given the current rate of inflation, depreciation of the cedi and the general economic hardship in the country.
Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the NDC Minority Leader, in his concluding remarks on the debate of the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government, said for the past few years, by convention, successive governments had succeeded in negotiating the base pay for workers prior to the presentation of the Budget Statement.
Unfortunately, that had not happened in the 2023 Budget, he said, and that Government and Labour were still negotiating when the Budget was presented to Parliament.
“Whereas government is proposing some 18 per cent wage increase, public sector workers are asking for more,” Mr Iddrisu said.
“If Government fails to agree to a reasonable wage increase, it could hamper industrial harmony.”
He said the continuous depreciation of the local currency was worrying, leading to increased cost of doing business and high cost of living.
Touching on value added tax (VAT), the Minority Leader said Government had piled more hardships on the people of Ghana through the introduction of more taxes in next year’s Budget.
“The most punitive among these taxes is the addition of 2.5 per cent to the VAT rate bringing it to a cumulative 21.5 per cent (made up of 2.5 per cent GETFund, 2.5 per cent National Health Insurance, 1.0 per cent Covid Levy and 15 per cent VAT, all levied under the Value-Added Act, (Act 870) the highest in Africa,” Mr Iddrisu said.
He said that as sure as night followed day, that would worsen the hardship faced by Ghanaians, as prices of almost all items would increase once the tax came into effect.
Mr Iddrisu said in addition to the increase in VAT, they had detected 22 additional tax and revenue measures that would make life even more difficult and unbearable for the Ghanaian.
“As Social Democrats, we of the NDC have never been against taxation per se, but we are simply unable to agree with the steep increase and timing of the introduction of these tax measures.”
At a time when people were facing the worst economic crisis and hardships in their lifetime, the last thing desired was further taxation, he said.
The Minority leader said the high rate of inflation had already eroded the disposable incomes of Ghanaians, who could no longer bear any further stretch.