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Striking airport workers give government two weeks to resolve grievances

The Divisional Union of the Public Services Workers Union (PSWU) at the Ghana Airport Company Limited (GACL) has given the government a two-week ultimatum to address issues affecting staff members.

The ultimatum was after a crunch meeting between representatives of the workers and the Ministers-designate for Labour, Transport and National Security.

Following the withdrawal of services by the workers, they claim among other things, that the Board of the company is shelving a report which confirms allegations of mismanagement and abuse of office levelled against the Managing Director, Mr. Yaw Kwakwa.

Speaking to Citi News, General Secretary of the Public Services Workers Union of the Trades Union Congress, Mr. John Sampah, said the workers will resume the industrial action should the government fail to honour its promise.

“At the end of the three-hour meeting, there was an agreement to the effect that the workers will withdraw all their services and give the government the 15th of March for it to address the concerns of the workers. In the meantime, one of the concerns of the workers, which was the promotion of a certain group of staff who had been interviewed two years ago but was pending; the Chief of Staff gave instructions to the Board Chair that the letters to those workers be written by Monday. That was agreed upon.”

“The Chief of Staff also directed the Board to meet the investigation committee urgently on Monday and submit its findings on the Managing Director for government to issue its position on the matter”, he added.

The workers at the airport have accused management of running down the company.

While accusing the manager of the company, Mr. Yaw Kwakwa of mismanagement, the workers also say issues of promotion and staff welfare are not being looked at.

The outrage of the workers led to the disruption of all departures at the Kotoko International Airport (KIA) on Friday morning following the indefinite withdrawal of services of all general staff at the airport on the orders of the Divisional Union of the Public Services Workers Union at the Ghana Airport Company Limited.

John Sampah stated that the unhappy workers are demanding the immediate removal of the Managing Director for the survival of the company.

“They believe that the Managing Director is not managing the company very well. They also believe that there are key operations that have been outsourced at exorbitant costs that should not be the case. They believe the Managing Director is sitting on staff welfare issue, viz-a-viz promotions and other things.”

“If the situation is not checked, then the GACL will be run down. Their point is that until the Managing Director is removed from the company, the company will be brought down.”

The aggrieved workers say the future of the company was being risked by maintaining Mr. Kwakwa.

“Our expectation is that the Managing Director must be removed. If we allow this man to continue sitting in office, the fortunes of this company can only dwindle and the staff will not be ready for that. If he is not removed we are not backing down. We will continue increasing our levels of withdrawal of service until we get what we want,” Divisional Chairman of the PSWU at the Airport Company Limited Abdul-Issaka Bamba had earlier stressed.

Source:citinewsroom

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AirtelTigo shareholder loans not passed on to government – Ursula

Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has disclosed that shareholder loans of AirtelTigo were not transferred to the state as part of its takeover of the company.

Other creditors have either written off loans advanced to the company or slashed down the liability, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful also said.

The Government and the parent companies of AirtelTigo, Bharti Airtel Ghana Holdings B.V. and MIC Africa B.V have concluded negotiations and signed an agreement to transfer the shares of the company to Ghana.

This was after the company’s departure from the Ghanaian market in October 2020 as announced by Airtel and Millicom.

The agreement transferred all customers, assets and agreed liabilities of AirtelTigo to the Government of Ghana.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful noted that “the shareholders of Airtel and Tigo are not passing on the shareholder loans that were advanced to the company.”

According to her, “that is one of the main items that was hurting the balance sheet of the company.”

“So 100 percent of all the loans have been forgiven, more or less. They are not seeking the repayment of those loans.”

Among the notable liabilities was a $100 million facility from Standard Charted Bank.

But according to Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful “the company is now only saddled with 50 percent of that liability.”

“These measures also helped free the company from the debt burden that it was under,” she added.

The minister assured all local creditors of the company that “we are going to sit down with them and look at ways in which we can assist the company to meet its obligations towards them.”

AirtelTigo serves around 5.1 million subscribers and offers direct and indirect employment opportunities to almost 10,000 people.

Source:citinewsroom

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Utility tariff hike: Using generators may become cheaper option – Ben Boakye

The Executive Director of the Africa Center for Energy Policy (ACEP), Dr. Ben Boakye says regular tariff hikes in Ghana may compel many to rely on generators since it may be cheaper than relying on the national grid.

According to him, this is an impending challenge that needs to be considered in the debate on whether utility tariffs should be increased on not.

Speaking on The Point of View on Citi TV, Mr. Boakye said increasing the tariffs Ghanaians pay to access electricity and water is not the ultimate solution to the challenges utility companies face.

“The more tariffs we pile up, the more competitive the grid becomes… Before the oil prices went up, generating your own electricity was cheaper than hooking onto the grid. We are now at the point where we are almost at par. So if you increase it [tariffs] and it becomes much more beneficial to turn on your generator, those who have generators will use it and the grid will become redundant and that also comes with its own cost,” he said.

He suggested that utility companies, particularly those within the electricity distribution chain, should concentrate on fixing challenges within their distribution system rather than chasing after tariff adjustment which will amount to nothing if the systemic problems are not fixed.

“Some balancing act needs to be done but most importantly, fixing ECG and the distribution problem is what is critical at this point because if power is sold, and you are not able to recover the money, you cannot pay GRIDCo, you cannot pay ECG for the system to function,” he added.

Ben Boakye suggested that the financial issue can be addressed by getting an investor to help improve the operations of the power company.

Don’t increase tariffs – CUTS International

Meanwhile, Appiah Adomako, the Director of CUTS International, an organization working in the area of consumer protection, has kicked against the proposal for tariff increment.

He said the utility companies making such demands should be instructed by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to fix the financial loopholes in their systems before their proposal is considered.

“I still think that the regulator, the PURC, should allow these utility companies to go back and fix all the things that can be fixed at their end, collect all revenues that are outstanding before allowing them any increase in tariffs.”

He said the demand for an increment in tariffs must be thoroughly scrutinized by the PURC and must be granted based on sound reason.

Source: citinewsroom

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Ghana is low-middle income country; IMF’s classification presents ‘narrow view’ – Prof. Quartey

The Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) at the University of Ghana, Professor Kwesi Quartey, says the World Bank’s description of Ghana as a low-middle income country is a more accurate classification of the country’s economic standing.

According to him the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) classification presents a narrow view which does not give a fair account of the country’s standing.

Speaking on Eyewitness News on the back of claims that the IMF has downgraded Ghana’s economic classification from a low-middle-income country to a low-income developing country, Prof. Quartey said both internationally recognized bodies assess countries very differently and have different classifications which must not be confused with each other.

“The IMF classification looks at fiscal data whereas the World Bank classification looks at income per capita, in other words your GDP (total income); if we were to share it equally across the population, what will be each person’s share? That is what we call per capital income… [The IMF’s classification is] a narrow way of defining a country in terms of its economic status,” he said.

Some social media posts and news reports said the IMF in its April 2021 Fiscal Monitor forecast report had downgraded Ghana’s economic classification but Citi News’ checks reveal that the claim is false.

Prof. Quartey, who is more appreciative of the metrics used by the World Bank in its country classification said, “let’s not confuse these two. They are totally different. We are not a low income country. We are a low-middle income country per the World Bank’s classification.”

“The World Bank classifies countries according to their per capita income so if your income is above a certain threshold, then you are classified as a middle income or if it is below a certain threshold then you are a low income country… According to the World Bank classification, we are a low-middle income country,” he indicated.

He further explained that the latest biannual IMF report at the center of the controversy still shows Ghana as having a respectable economic position amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to him, Ghana was on a good track and previous IMF reports confirmed this prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.

Reacting to the question on whether Ghana’s economic classification could or should affect loans granted the country, he said while borrowing could be problematic for the country, it is also important to take a loan to tackle urgent issues that will be productive and yield good results for the clearance of the debts.

“We need to fight this pandemic so we live to see tomorrow so if government borrows to spend, of course it is a problem but it is not too much of a problem. We have to look at the broader picture on what benefit that will yield to the Ghanaian economy and for me, that is the way to go. Borrow but borrow responsibly, invest into productive activities, that should be able to pay off the loan,” he noted.

Source:citinewsroom

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