Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II is questioning the quality of work that was done by government before it introduced the Single Spine Salary Structure.

wpid-wpid-Otumfuor-Osei-Tutu-II1.jpgHe describes as untenable, revelations that government spends more than 70 percent of its revenue on the payment of salaries as a result of the introduction of the SSSS.

The Asantehene is therefore calling for a roadmap on how to fix the challenges associated with the structure, to ensure its sustainability.

The Asantehene was speaking at an event in Accra when the University of Professional Studies honoured himself, Speaker of Parliament Edward Doe Adjaho, and former MP for Afigya Kwabre Albert Kan Dapaah with doctorate degrees for their contribution to the development of the country.

Otumfuo Osei Tutu also demanded action from President Mahama to deal with the numerous cases of alleged corruption in government.

Below is the full speech
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SPEECH DELIVERED BY HIS MAJESTY OTUMFUO OSEI TUTU II ? ASANTEHENE AT UNIVERSITY OF PROFESSIONAL STUDIES, ACCRA (UPSA) ON FRIDAY 8TH NOVEMBER, 2013-11-08

Of all the honours which we cherish in life, few can be more memorable than that which comes from our peers. Thus, some five years ago, it was a special moment for us when we received the Honorary Doctorate from the London Metropolitan University, formerly University of North London. This is where I had studied in Britain as a young man searching for the pathway to his future.? It was a great pride to be acknowledged by the University as an Alumni whose service and achievements deserved the Honorary Award.

Now we are back where it all began for me, on this vast campus in Accra, for this Special Congregation to receive an Honorary Degree Awarded by our newest University to its Alumnus. I accept this Honorary Degree with humility and pride. Humility arising from the recognition of our peers, and pride in sharing in the history of a remarkable Institution.

It is exactly 42 years since I first arrived on this campus to enrol for a course in Accountancy at the then Institute of Professional Studies. After two years of very rewarding preparation however, the opportunity arose for me to proceed to the United Kingdom to continue with my education. This was an opportunity that could not be missed and though it mean a break from an Institution I had come to cherish very much, I can assure you that the Foundation I received has served me well at every stage of my life.

The story of this University proves to me the pioneering spirit and the creativity of Ghanaians. He may not have been cast exactly in the mould of Carnegies and Rockefellers but the founder Mor. Opoku Ampomah was imbued with the same passion and entrepreneurial zeal by which great nations have been built. He saw a new nation emerge with huge aspirations for the social and economic development of its people. Industrialisation, scientific agriculture, infrastructural development and massive social services, these were the aspirations of a new Ghana. For these aspirations to be met, a colossal amount of skilled human capital was needed, but our conventional education system was not geared towards providing the Professional skills. He spotted a gap and he filled it. That is the spirit that has built many nations and I am proud that this man then is still around and in one of my Paramount Chiefs, the Omanhene of Amoaful. Unfortunately, circumstances of the time did not come to terms with a strong private Institute and eventually the state took over.

Thankfully, the Institute did not go the way of other state enterprises that went down the drain. Today?s function only helps to underscore the great endeavours of those who have had the responsibility for managing the affairs of this University. It is my singular honour to pay tribute to the Vice Chancellor, Professor Joshua Alabi, also an Alumni and his team for shepherding it to the elevated position we celebrate today.

Your Excellency, the success of this University and the broad changes in the educational system to allow for greater emphasis on Professional development, means that the original challenge our pioneer sought to tackle may have been partially met. But I submit that the challenge to Professional development is greater today than when our pioneer saw the light through darkness. Today, it is not just a challenge of turning out scores of number crunchers, professional marketers and analysts and all that, The greater challenge now is what we make of our professional practice and how this may impact upon the process of the governance in this country.

Mr. President, the Vice Chancellor, although the occasion of a Special Congregation has to be a happy one, I am sure no one here will dispute that the country is going through some trying moments.? Recent high energy tariffs have brought the country face to face with the prospect of a general strike. My interaction with captains of business and industry have revealed substantial disquiet about the effects of energy costs on the cost of doing business in Ghana and a potential hindrance to job creation. Beyond energy, there are seemingly intractable problems around education, healthcare delivery, not to talk about the infrastructural overhang from uncompleted projects.

Every nation goes through periods of turbulence. It is how institutions of State manoeuvre through this turbulence that marks the difference between a stable and firmly rounded State and an unstable State. We continue to believe that we have laid stable foundations for a stable, democratic state. We therefore hope that our institutions of state will rise up to the challenge to manoeuvre the ship of state through these storms. To do this, they must listen to the pain and anguish of the people they are paid to serve. From where I sit, I hear cries from farmers, from workers, from traders, from professionals, from captains of Industry. They cannot all be wrong. So let creative minds step up the plate and find the compromise and not wait till we move from crisis to natural disaster.

As with the challenge to our Industrial peace, so there are other challenges to professional practice that an occasion like this inevitably brings to our attention.

Accountants have a critical role to play in Ghana?s economic development and growth. They are responsible for the integrity of the financial systems of the country. As Accountants or Auditors or Consultants, your work or Counsel is important to maintain the health and public trust in the integrity of the our financial systems. We must regard the Auditor Generals Report, the Public hearings of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament and the Public hearings of the Sole Commissioner on Judgment debt as very worrying. Countless instances of misapplication of, misappropriation, and downright theft of public resources are an indictment on our honours as guardians of the national purse. The establishment of the Internal Audit Agency was meant to ensure adherence to internal controls and the financial Administration Regulations. Unfortunately, there do not appear to be abatement in the hazards to public funds placed in our care.

It is my hope that Institutions like this University will analyse the Auditor General?s Report and conduct a research into the breakdown or non-adherence to systems and controls that lead to such dissipation of public resources.

Corruption is another canker that poisons the fabric of our society. From the lowly placed officer who demands a consideration before he executes the responsibility he is paid to discharge, to the highly placed Chief Executive or Public Officer who takes a percentage of contracts awarded, all of them, cause damage not only to the financial viability of our state, but also moral integrity of our nation.

Corruption affects all of us, public or private sector, in Government or in opposition and the blame game won?t help us here. We must all collaborate to deal with corruption and I urge all Ghanaians to put our hands on deck. State Institutions like EOCO and CHRAJ must be adequately resourced to deal with corrupt cases.

However, the President and those put in authority have an important role to play. I urge the President, Minister, and anti-corruption Institutions to deal decisively with incidents of corruption that are brought to their attention by the public and the media.? The President must crack the whip without fear or favour. It is only when people know that the price they pay for corruption is high one that they will be deterred from the practice.

Another issue of concern is what has become one of the most debated issues in the governance of this country, the single spine salary structure. The stakeholders? intention of establishing the SSSS has been good. Unfortunately, its implementation has been fraught with problems. The handing of conversion difference, premiums and various categories of allowances have led to Industrial unrest and threats of strikes everyday by one professional group or another. For most of you, Professors, Lecturers, and students alike, the single spine structure represents an enhancement of public sector emoluments which is good for motivation and allegedly rewards Professional development and practice. But recent sounding especially from Government have stirred some controversy over the scheme. In a situation we are told where we commit as much as 70% of total revenue into the payment of salaries alone for about 600,000 public sector workers including Article 71 office holders to is untenable. How is any Government going to find the extra resources to fund the massive infrastructural challenges, the healthcare and education needs of the country and many of the challenges beside?

Currently also, I am informed that, Professional groups are placing themselves back on the CAP 31 pension scheme including retirement on salary. The question we must ask ourselves is can the economy at this time take all these pressures? All over the world, the highest salaries are found in the private sector. Recently, I gathered through the Ghana Employers Association that the private sector is losing personnel to the Public sector because salaries in the public sector after the implementation of the single spine salary structure are significantly higher than in the private sector.

Your Excellency, I have chosen to speak about this today because I think it dramatically emphasises the extraordinary challenge to professional practice in the governance of Ghana about which I have just alluded to. As we know, the single spine concept did not simply drop from the skies overnight to take everybody by surprise. It was conceived by people, presented by people, argues by people before it was eventually adopted by the peoples? elected representatives in Parliament. If I am not mistaken, the idea was carried over, from one Government to the next, debated over six years before receiving the green light for implementation. The question for me is this: from all the flood of words and heap of paperwork that may have been churned out in the course of the years of discussion on the single spine, were policy makers ever presented with detailed costs for our budget officials to determine whether this could be met from our resources? Is there among the might arsenals of Government a model for testing the sustainability of such a scheme?

Let us bear in mind that as a country, we already have a huge debt burden and our obligations to the international financial community require us to monitor our economy stingily to ensure we can meet our obligations. It stands to reason therefore that before we embarked upon a scheme of this kind, we should have calculated the possible effects upon our ability to service our debt. After all you create wealth before you share. Is it any wonder that global rating agency should be downgrading Ghana? Government must have the courage to deal with these issues in a spirit of fairness and good faith.? As the President said in Ho at a forum with organised labour on the SSSS and I quote ?we cannot throw the baby away with the bath water. We have come too far to turn back.? All stakeholders should come on board in good faith to create roadmap that allows an extension in the implementation of the SSSS and gives space for the problems identified to be resolved over time.

As a prime University for the intellectual development of the professionals, you provide the right setting for me to again raise the challenge for the creative minds to surge forward to bring their intellectual rigours to the fore and help the nation to deal with the problems before the single spine develops into Ghana?s broke spine.

Another area of concern is the media. Recent events compel me to touch on this subject again after my public lecture in May by the NCCE. The media has been one of the happy growth sectors of the economy. The electronic media now reaches out to every nook and corner of this country. The print media too remains remarkably resilient. To serve this vast and growing media, a number of media professionals are being churned out by the hundreds. We all applaud the work the bulk of them do in bringing the information and enlightenment to our homes and providing us with the sound entertainment. But side by side with this positive outlook is the ugly intruder who seeks to use the media as a weapon of National destruction to attack, insult and violate the honour and integrity of individuals and institutions without any compunction. In the hands of this intruder, truth is of no consequence, the very ethics of the profession and are cast aside as they assert their own right to concoct and fabricate naked and various falsehoods against individuals and institutions. These concocted and fabricated falsehoods are also used by columnists who write in the respected newspapers to churn abuse and describe the ones being falsely accused as conduits for bribery without bothering to find out the truth or otherwise. On the platform of a University whose core business is the development of Professionals, I can only call on all true media professionals to stand up and defend the integrity and honour of their profession as the profession of truth and not peddlers of falsehood.

Your Excellency, Mr. Chairman, Vice Chancellor. On behalf of my mother, my dear wife and the Chiefs and people of Asanteman who I am sure are benefitting from the Foundation of professional ethics and training the Institution now a University imbibed in me, I thank you for this honour done me and for allowing me to share with you the same thoughts of national interest. I pray that this University will train various professionals of integrity to be able to steer the affairs of this country professionally to contribute their quota to the development of Mother Ghana.

MAY GOD /ALLAH BE OUR KEEPER!

THANK YOU

?myjoyonline.com

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