The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has appealed to the government to review the contract between Ghana and Meridian Port Services (MPS) which was signed in 2015 because its execution can lead to massive job losses in the maritime industry.
“Our understanding is that the Ghana government signed a 35-year contract with MPS in 2015 which allows MPS to effectively monopolise activities at the Tema Port.
“The information we have gathered further indicates that when the new terminal commences operations in June 2019, with the monopolistic rights of MPS, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and other operators at the Tema Port, such as terminal operators, inland container depots (ICDs), stevedoring companies and shore handling companies, will lose huge revenues that may lead to the collapse of many container-related businesses,” it said in a statement issued in Accra yesterday.
In its response to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) delivered by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to Parliament last Thursday, the TUC appealed to the President to intervene in the contract, which gave the MPS monopoly over activities at the Tema Port.
Loss of jobs
The statement said with the maritime industry already grappling with redundancies as a result of the government’s policy of registering many stevedoring and shore handling companies, such a contract would worsen the plight of the huge number of Ghanaians whose livelihoods were linked to activities at the port.
It said there were indications that the GPHA alone might sack about 1,400 workers this year as a result of the MPS’s monopoly at the Tema Port.
Loss of revenue
“If the contract is not reviewed and MPS commences operation at the new terminal in June 2019, the government/GPHA will surely lose millions of US dollars in revenue, in addition to the over US$800 million granted to MPS in tax concessions.
“We are, therefore, not only concerned about the massive job losses that will result from the operations of the new container terminal by MPS but also the huge losses in government revenue,” the statement said.
While commending the President for the SONA, it said “one of the key challenges that remains to be addressed is how to maintain the linkage between the macroeconomic achievements and daily living experiences of Ghanaians”.
“We must work together, as social partners, to ensure that economic growth creates more decent jobs that enable workers to own decent housing and other basic necessities of life,” it said.
Whereas the statement commended the government for creating more jobs in the public sector, it said there was a limit to the capacity of the state to directly address the job crisis and, therefore, urged the government to support the private sector to lead the job creation agenda.
The TUC was of the view that the declining inflation must be felt in the markets for goods and services and reflect in the cost of living and living standards of the people of Ghana.
“A trade surplus must reflect in the exchange rate of the national currency against the major currencies of the world. The Planting for Food and Jobs must sustain food security all-year round and, even more importantly, it must show real improvement in the incomes and living standards of farmers,” it further said.
It said achievements in macroeconomic management that were delinked from the daily lives of citizens and communities were likely to be ephemeral, “as our experience has shown in the last few years”.
The statement noted with concern that macroeconomic stability could not be time appreciated “in a highly partisan and polarised environment like ours, unless and until we find ways to ensure that macroeconomic gains continuously lead to noticeable improvement in people’s lives”.
“This requires a national conversation that is broad-based and takes into account differences in perspectives in the formulation, implementation, evaluation and review of economic and other public policies,” it stated.