Thursday, August 14, 2008

GOVT WILL SOON BE VINDICATED...On GT-Vodafone deal — President (SPREAD)

PRESIDENT John Agyekum Kufuor yesterday predicted that Ghanaians would soon vindicate the government of the decision to sell 70 per cent of Ghana Telecom (GT) shares to Vodafone.
Emphasising that the decision to sell the shares was in the best interest of the nation, he said what was most refreshing was that “everything has been transparent”.
President Kufuor stated this in reaction to concerns raised by the outgoing acting Secretary General of the Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, over the sale of GT, at the official opening of the 8th quadrennial delegates congress of the TUC in Kumasi.
Mr Asamoah, who spoke against what he described as the indiscriminate privatisation of national assets, stated that GT as a strategic national asset should not be hurriedly sold out without the necessary consultations.
He again said the agreement for the sale was unacceptable because “the company would be sold for a pittance”.
However, President Kufuor said the acting TUC Secretary General might not have been adequately informed about the sale agreement.
He said the TUC should have considered what the workers of the company themselves were saying about the decision to sell the shares to enable the TUC to produce a fair comment on the decision.
The President expressed concern about the way some people had wanted to clothe the whole exercise in politics.
He described the whole scenario as hypocritical especially looking at the way national assets like the AGC, GHACEM and the Tema Drydock were sold in the past.
President Kufuor recounted the achievements of the government over the past seven-and-half years and commended workers for supporting the government to achieve so much in a relatively short period.
He said the National Youth Employment Programme, the mass cocoa spraying exercise, massive construction works and national reforestation programmes had all contributed in addressing the unemployment problem to some extent.
Referring to the theme for the congress, “Social protection for all, a prerequisite for consolidating democratic governance – the role of trade unions”, the president said it was in line with the underlying principles of all policies of the government.
He indicated that the people of the country had accepted democracy as the only form of government necessary for the nation and there should be no turning back.
Mr Kufuor stated that within the period of the current government, the national minimum wage had gone up by 750 per cent, which was indicative of the government’s commitment to improving the living standards of workers.
He noted that the government had accepted the single spine pay policy to be implemented on the basis of equal pay for work of equal value and urged the tripartite committee to educate its members on the new system.
Stressing the support his government had given to the private sector to develop, Mr Kufuor said so far the government had spent GH¢37 million on MASLOC alone with over 133,000 people benefiting from the programme nationwide, adding that “the plan is to serve another batch of 39,000 this year and GH¢ 22.6 million has been earmarked for this”.
He also disclosed that the National Health Insurance Scheme had registered 11 million people so far, representing more than 55 per cent of the national population.
In his address, Mr Asamoah, called for resources for the fair wages committee for it to work without difficulty.
He was not happy about the performance of the National Labour Commission and said workers were losing confidence in the commission.
Mr Asamoah said employers had persistently failed to implement policies of the commission and therefore called for the amendment of the laws establishing the commission to enable it to have the powers of a High Court to ensure the effective implementation of its decisions.
He called on the political parties to ensure decency in their campaigns and called on the electorate to reject the party that preached violence.

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