Political marketing expert and Senior lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, Dr. Kobby Mensah has said that the clean-up exercise in the banking sector undertaken by the Bank of Ghana was done without much reflection on the possible harsh effects on the employment situation in the country.
He said in an interview in Accra that the government appeared to be concentrating more on saving depositors’ funds and did not seem to do much about the fate of the thousands of employees of the banks, who lost their jobs as a result of the exercise. That, he said, may come back to hurt the NPP in the 2020 elections.
According to Dr. Mensah, who is also a branding expert, the Bank of Ghana handled the clean-up exercise through what he described as a corporatist lens instead of using a public policy approach. He explained that, generally corporate level decisions tend to have what he called micro effects but public policy actions have macro impact that affect the whole nation.
“Indeed, the factors involved in public policy can be uncontrollable and the results can also be unforeseen”.
For these reasons, Dr. Mensah pointed out that the Bank of Ghana and the government should have put in place solid measures to save as many jobs as possible, particularly because of the high unemployment situation in the country.
He said for the ordinary people, the economy is reduced to actual jobs, job opportunities, income levels, avenues for improving oneself, social safety nets, the situation of relatives etc., adding that the average person looks at these before casting his vote unlike the politically inclined or the activist who will vote for a particular party irrespective of the existing situation.
Besides, the banking sector, Dr. Mensah also pointed to the job losses in the media space following the closure of some stations for allegedly failing to renew their frequency licenses. This, he said, had also swelled up the unemployment numbers in the country.
“The NPP campaigned on job creation, so every policy decision they took should have reflected that agenda rather than taking decisions that collapsed businesses because when you do that and unforeseen circumstances like pandemics such as the coronavirus break out, your unemployment situation becomes worse,” the lecturer noted.
Dr. Mensah said, the opposition, particularly the National Democratic Congress (NDC) can take advantage of the current disaffection for the NPP in the employment arena only if it presents a compelling debate that responds directly to the job gaps created in the banking sector, the media space and other sectors of the economy.
He said; for instance, the NDC Flag-bearer, Ex-President John Dramani Mahama could create some “psychological safety” in the minds of the voters and also show evidence of his capacity to deliver jobs should he win power again.
He observed that the NPP in the 2016 elections managed to convince the people that the party would create paradise on earth when they get the mandate to rule and so the people’s confidence in the NPP went through the roof, hence their victory in the election.
According to Dr. Mensah, the people believed President Akufo-Addo because he had, in the past, positioned himself as someone who stood for the ordinary people and his believability had been cemented by his leading role in the Kume preko demonstrations that sought to fight for the poor.
Meanwhile, the Coalition of ex-staff of Collapsed Micro Finance Companies (MFC’s) and Savings And Loans Companies (SLC’s) has said that due to the job losses following the financial sector clean-up, many former workers of the affected institutions are experiencing serious emotional trauma because of the resulting financial hardship.
“We are currently in a state of despondency, anxiety, hardship and uncertainty. We appeal to all who matter in the payment of the severance packages to ensure payment without further delay so that we, the ex-staff can continue with our normal lives,” the coalition said in a statement.
Pursuant to Section 123 (1) of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act 2016 (Act 930), the Bank of Ghana on May 31, 2019 and August 16, 2019, revoked the licenses of some Savings and Loans Companies and Microfinance Companies, placed them under receivership and appointed Mr. Eric Nana Nipah as Receiver.
Subsequent to that, the coalition said, the Receiver, Mr. Eric Nana Nipah, of Price Water House Coopers (PWC) Ghana Limited gave all ex-staff of the affected institutions a temporary Contract of Employment for three and half months, ending November, 2019.
“At the expiry of the contract, 99% of staff’s employment was terminated. It is worth stating, with much pain, that a good number of ex-staff have since not been re-engaged in any form of income generating activity, even though, much efforts have gone in getting our lives back by engaging ourselves in meaningful income generating activities.
The Receiver has confirmed his preparedness to fulfill his obligation in accordance with the provisions of Act 930 regarding any agreed severance package for ex-staff,” the former bank workers pointed out in the statement.
The Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU), UNICOV and some ex-staff represented by their lawyers led negotiations with the receiver’s appointed labour consultant, Austin Gamey for which a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was signed in December 2019.
“We the ex-staff are also aware that a lot of work has been done on the agreed severance package and it is at the point of approval”.
“In view of the unusual times that we are in now as a result of the Covid-19 global pandemic, we wish to appeal to all involved in this matter. It is worthy to note that for the past seven months, there are some households which have not received any form of income to support their families as a result of both husband and wife being ex-staff of the companies under receivership” the former financial sector employees said.
Earlier, iWatch Africa investigations into the number of direct jobs lost as a result of the Bank of Ghana clean-up of the banking and specialized deposit-taking and non-banking financial institutions sectors revealed that over 6000 people had directly lost their jobs since 2017.
Two banks, UT Bank and Capital Bank, were first taken over by GCB Bank in a purchase and assumption agreement.
Seven banks, the Sovereign Bank, Beige Bank, Premium Bank, Royal Bank, Heritage Bank, Construction Bank and UniBank had their licenses revoked and placed under the Consolidated Bank of Ghana.
The Bank of Baroda as part of its reforms willingly folded up operations in the country and exited.