Over 24,000 jobs will collapse if the benchmark value on some selected imported items is not removed, the Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) of Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) has said.
Mr Kenneth Koomson, FAWU General Secretary said, “currently, there are four main oil palm plantations employees of over 24,000 workers and these jobs stand to disappear if the benchmark value policy is not reversed”.
He said some of these workers who will lose their jobs including their dependents, may find solace in social vices.
Mr Koomson said this at a press conference organized by FAWU in collaboration with the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) of the Ghana Trade Union Congress (TUC).
He said before the introduction of the benchmark policy in 2019, the total cost of locally produced 25 litres of vegetable oil stood at $24.53, whereas the total cost of imported vegetable oil per 25 litres stood at $25.92.
“But after the introduction of the benchmark value policy, the total cost of locally produced 25 litres of vegetable oil dropped to $23.89 difference of $0.64 while the total cost of imported oil dropped to $22.18 a difference of $3.74 making the imported very cheap”.
Mr Koomson explained that the figures clearly showed that the importer of finished vegetable oil made a saving of $3.7 on every 25 litres as against $0.64 of the local manufacturer which in absolute terms is almost GH¢22.00, a difference accounted for by the change of regime.
He indicated that this situation had resulted in the influx of cheap imported products onto the Ghanaian market making it extremely difficult for the local manufacturers to sell.
“We all know that the interests of employers are mostly incompatible with that of employees, but when it comes to the management of a business, the focus of the employer is to, at least, breakeven to be able to sustain capital,” he said.
He said, “now, the only options will be to shut down the costly labour intensive operations that is what we are afraid may happen very soon if nothing is done about the suspension.
He explained that, more jobs would be lost if the local manufacturer closes down than an importing enterprise.
Mr Koomson said as a trade union – FAWU and GAWU considered it as their fundamental obligation to promote and protect the social and economic interest and wellbeing of workers.
“We, therefore, appeal to Government that based on the negative impact of benchmark policy on jobs and survival of the industry, the government should as a matter of urgency, implement the removal of the benchmark policy,” he stated.
He said on January 13, 2022, the Ghana Revenue Authority issued a Communique on the suspension of the Government’s policy directive on the removal of the reduction of benchmark values of imports on some selected items.
He said the directive came as a shock after almost two years of stakeholder consultation on the matter, which eventually resulted in the reversal of the policy as announced by the Finance Minister in the 2022 Budget.