A section of the delegates at the TUC Congress

THE GHANA Trades Union Congress (TUC) has challenged the authenticity of the economic growth claims being touted by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government.

Kofi Asamoah, secretary general of TUC, said in the midst of the so-called ?positive? developments that had characterized the Ghanaian economy in the last four years, joblessness was on the rise.

Speaking at the ninth quadrennial delegates congress in Kumasi, the TUC boss indicated that majority of young men and women coming out of the universities and other tertiary institutions could not find decent jobs.

?Economic growth and development should be about people; it should not end with churning out beautiful economic statistics,? he noted, adding that the TUC expected improvements in the economic and social circumstances of the people of Ghana when the economy was acclaimed to be doing well.

Mr. Asamoah said available data indicated that the country achieved the longest period of macroeconomic stability in recent economic history.

He said the data indicated that the size of the economy doubled, with international reserve position hitting its highest level.

But the high economic growth, in addition to the oil and gas coming on stream, had failed to create jobs, with the manufacturing sector declining by about 15 percent in 2011, Kofi Asamoah stated.

In his view, this was the irony of Ghana?s economic growth story, asserting that the TUC believed that the nation could not create the needed employment if manufacturing was not made a priority.

?With the value of the Cedi declining on daily basis, (and) the domestic prices of imports keep rising,? the TUC Secretary General noted, there would be adverse implication on the living conditions of workers whose salaries were fixed throughout the year.

In a sharp response, Vice-President Paa Kwesi Amissah-Arthur said the great challenges in the global world economy had had adverse impacts on Ghana?s economy with respect to its capacity to meet the needs of citizens.

He stated that the top priority of the ?Better Ghana Agenda? was how to ensure that the nation?s economy created large numbers of decent jobs for those who were willing to work hard, especially the unemployed youth and persons with disabilities whose access to decent work had been hampered for far too long.

Mr Amissah-Arthur asserted that while he would not discount the innovative programmes such as the Graduate Support Scheme and Labour Intensive Public Works that had been introduced to tackle unemployment, it appeared to him that those programmes were not making the desired impact in meeting the growing demand for jobs in the country.

According to him, it was government?s expectation that accelerated economic growth path the nation was currently on would produce many sustainable jobs.

?In this regard, Government re-dedicates itself to making job creation and the development of the private sector the cornerstone of its economic performance,? he disclosed.

Vice-President Amissah-Arthur said the establishment of a solid social protection system for working people had been  a core concern to government, under the leadership of the late  President Mills, over the past three-and-half years.

He stated that when the NDC government took office in 2009, a new three-tier pension scheme, that for the first time accommodated the needs of those in the informal sector, was put in place under the National Pension Act, 2008, to provide pension benefits.

It was also to ensure enhanced retirement income and security for workers as and when they were due, he added.

From Ernest Kofi Adu, Kumasi

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