Government is undertaking positive discrimination in favour of women, youth and persons with disabilities (PWDs), as part of measures to enhance their sources of livelihoods and their general welfare. In view of this, the Ministry of Roads and Highways is rolling out a system to ensure the recruitment of PWDs to work in automated toll booths as toll agents across the country.
Alhaji Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, the Vice President, made the disclosure when delivering a keynote address at a Career Fair organised by the Ghana Federation of Disabilities Organisations, in Accra, on Thursday.
He said when this process was completed, PWDs would constitute not less than 50 per cent of people employed to operate toll booths across the country aimed at reducing the rate of unemployment among them.
The career fair was held on theme: “Employing Persons with Disabilities to Promote Inclusive and Diversity in the Work Space- the Role of Policy Makers and Employers.”
Vice President Bawumia said the government had increased the District Assemblies Common Fund allocation to the PWDs from two to three per cent.
He said Government intended to operate a system similar to the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme so that monies meant for PWDs would be transferred directly to them in view of the delays by the district assemblies.
Vice President Bawumia said Government was committed to giving equal employment opportunities to PWDs and in the process of implementing a policy to ensure that they got the opportunity of serving in public offices.
This, he said, would improve their livelihoods and reduce the circle of poverty among PWDs,
“While this is an important initiative it is not sufficient, what we need is mainstreaming with persons with disabilities across both the public and the private sectors and therefore we needed a structure of making sure the PWDs attained the employment status,” he emphasised.
The Vice President said Government was ever committed at enhancing inclusive development across the country and would, therefore, create a conducive environment for PWDs to function effectively to contribute their quota towards national development.
He said the government was developing a comprehensive inclusive plan and a robust intervention for persons with disabilities.
In order to achieve that, he said, there was the need for accurate and reliable data for PWDs.
He indicated that the Economic Management Team had directed the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and other relevant institutions to register all PWDs in the country to facilitate the implementation of the plan.
He added that the National Identification System, which would start work this year would also capture accurate data and up-to-date information on PWDs, which would serve as a step towards the provision of support to the disability community.
Currently, he said, the rate of unemployment of both among abled and disabled persons in the country was high, therefore Government had instituted various ambitious policies and programmes in the agriculture, manufacturing industry, infrastructure and other areas intended to tackle the issue.
“We have to be honest and proactive on this issue and therefore positive discrimination in this aspect is needed because without that, we may not really achieve the required results,” Vice President Bawumia said.
To achieve inclusive society, he said, there was the need to allow the laws to work, saying “If the Persons with Disability Act, Act 715 of 2006 is enforced we will make a headway”.
He said 30 per cent of the 70 per cent tax payers’ funded contracts meant for indigenous companies would be sourced to entities operated and owned by persons with disability.
He said there was the need to resource and retool special training schools for PWDs to be trained in technical and skilled programmes.
He entreated employers to consider PWDs in job listing as government was working to activate section 46 of the Labour Act 2003, which sought to offer special incentives to employers that employed PWDs.
In addition, businesses or enterprises that engaged PWDs would also receive special incentives in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
The Vice President said Government would amend the Persons with Disability Act, 2006, Act 715, to bring it at par with the United Nations Convention on Disability.
Article 37 of the UN convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities focused on decent employment for PWDs recognising the right to work in a labour market that is open, inclusive and accessible, he said.
It required States to promote the realisation of that right through prohibition of discrimination, unjust and unfavourable work conditions exercising of trade union rights and promotion of self-employment, provision of reasonable accommodation and work experience in employment, he explained.
He said Government would make sure these provisions work by passing appropriate legislative instruments for the implementation of the Disability Act as well as the Mental Health Act, 2012, Act 846.
He said it was unfortunate that the aforementioned laws had been passed some years ago lacked the legislative instruments to make them work and bring benefits to the people.
He said there were over three million people with disabilities in the country who formed an integral part of the nation’s development.
Unfortunately, he said, the disabled community in Ghana and globally had been marginalised and faced several challenges including discrimination, limited access to public facilities, lack of equal access to health and educational opportunities as well as unemployment.
“As a nation we need to keep understanding that disability is not inability and that must become a very important factor for employers.
“As an employer or potential employer you must understand that if you employ someone with disability, it does not mean he or she is not going to do the job,” he said.
The meeting attracted a cross section of the public including heads of department, civil society organisations, youth groups, employment associations among other well-meaning Ghanaians.
The fair which was started in 2010 provides a suitable platform for PWDS to highlight their God-given potentials and the need for them to be given the opportunity to serve in various sectors of the economy.