Gov�t 1.8m Jobs Hoax

The recent claim by the Mills administration that it had generated an unprecedented 1.8million jobs in three years has deepened suspicion about the legitimacy of all the previous employment data churned out by the present government. With no evidence to support the claim, Ghanaians, especially members of the Unemployed Graduates Association, had been dumbfounded by the substantial disparities between figures released in the past by government officials and the realities on the ground, saying that it could only be concocted figures meant to throw dust into the eyes of Ghanaians. In 2010, Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa, a deputy Minister of Information, announced the creation of 1.6million jobs by the NDC government in its first year in office, and a year after, precisely 2011, his former boss, John Akologo Tia announced a highly ambitious employment figures of two million on a live television show. John Tia made his announcement on GTV�s now defunct current affairs programme, �The Probe�. The latest employment figure of 1.8million was the third in a string of controversial employment data that contained so many discrepancies that had sent labour experts reeling in confusion. The latest data released by the Mills administration was contained in the revised edition of the �Green Book� launched by Vice President John Mahama on Wednesday, where it showcased the generation of 1.8 million jobs by the NDC government in various sectors of the economy in the past three-and-half years. Meanwhile, DAILY GUIDE checks at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) show that the glowing figures have hardly reflected on its membership. Amidst all the ambitious figures, SSNIT membership had occasionally declined. Latest data from SSNIT (March 2012) showed that the total number of active contributors currently hooked onto the scheme nationwide was 975,382. In 2009 and 2010, SSNIT members were 1,308,086 and 1,327,658 respectively, showing an average variation of about 200,000 year on year. These variations were as a result of several factors, including new entrants into the scheme, retrenchments, liquidations, retirements, etc. Critics said with the 1.8million jobs, even if the default rate in compliance with the mandatory SSNIT enrolment was as high as 50 to 70 percent, the new employment figures released by the Atta Mills administration should boost SSNIT contributors by as much as 500,000 to 800,000 more. �So if the government has generated 1.8 million jobs in three-and-half years, where are the people, because none of these people have enrolled on SSNIT, a mandatory scheme for all formal sector workers?� an official from SSNIT told DAILY GUIDE yesterday on condition of anonymity. In Ghana, one veritable source of tracking real employment figures is the SSNIT because all employees in the formal sector are required to compulsorily enroll onto the national insurance trust. �So where are they, the new members from the 1.8 million jobs? The figures being showcased by the government does not reflect the reality on the ground,� said the DAILY GUIDE source. Another source of tracking real employment generation is the Internal Revenue Service, where all employees are charged Pay As you Earn (PAYE) income tax. DAILY GUIDE was unable to assess the total figures of PAYE contributors at IRS, but experts said SSNIT could give a credible perspective on the employment situation in the country. When he was contacted, Dr. Shaibu Gariba, Director of the Management Development and Productivity Institute of the Ministry of Employment and Social Welfare, told DAILY GUIDE that he did not know the methodology used in collecting the employment data, so he could not make any informed comments on the statistics. However, he hinted at the difficulties associated with collecting employment data in the country. �I am not too sure that it [data collection on employment] has been well structured yet, particularly in Ghana. We haven�t got a very good tracking system for our statistics. We are developing and as time goes on we will perfect it.� �Given the evidence on the ground, the government cannot claim its employment figures in the past three and half years is unprecedented,� regular radio commentator and newspaper editor, Abdul Malik Kweku Baako was quoted to have said on Peace FM yesterday. Indeed, government officials have had tensed brushes with one another on these controversial employment data that seem to pop up at curious times. In 2010, immediate past Employment Minister, Enoch Teye Mensah almost faced-off with Samuel Okudzeto-Ablakwa in his famous debunking of the 1.6million employment claim announced by the latter. �I don�t know about 1.6million jobs. We don�t have the statistics,� E.T Mensah said in Parliament in answering a question on the subject, in total contradiction to the conviction of the deputy Information Minister. Policy analyst and development economist, Dr. Theophilus Richardson called for a depoliticisation of macroeconomic data of the country. Dr. Richardson said the data must be analysed in such a way as to have meaning to the lives of Ghanaians.