Government statistician, Prof Samuel Kobina Annim, has expressed the need for government to have statistical targets for its policy interventions and strategies for the country.
According to him, the Ghana Statistical Service’s maiden release of a report dubbed, Ghana 2022 earnings: Inequality in the public sector, which is the first in a series by GSS that intends to produce on earnings inequality in Ghana, brings to bear the need for government not to overly rely on the qualitative aspect in its policy intervention.
He revealed that inequalities inherent in economies lays demand on the country to do due diligence when it comes to its activities.
Citing the government’s Single Spine Salary Structure and how it has been able to stem the tide of inequality, Prof Annim stated that the whole idea that underpins the single spine is why government set up the Fair Wages and Salaries Commission. He indicated that the whole idea was to ensure that there’s some fairness and harmonization across payments.
Prof Annim explained that indeed, some of the triggers for the single spine was to reduce the allowance components and try and consolidate most of the allowances into the basic salary so that government can really understand the payment that goes to different people for performing different jobs.
“Two reasons why GSS decided to initiate this was that if this exercise had been done prior to the deployment of the single spine, it would have been easy for us to assess whether single spine had worked or not. That is why now GSS is saying that every policy intervention, every strategy should have statistical targets… At the end of the day, if single spine was to say that we are reducing inequality, for now we are seeing 22% for basic salary to 10%. That is why it is important you do a statistic before a policy, during a policy and after a policy. “Prof Samuel Kobina Annim
Commenting on the Service’s maiden report on earnings inequality, Prof Annim stated that it is predicate on the global perspective to enable the government think about how decisions are met globally and how inequality is contributing to global decisions which invariably affects the country. He explained that global inequality emerges from two perspectives, one of which is the income perspective and the other, wealth perspective.
“Think about the whole global population being put into three categories. Those of us in the bottom 50%, in the middle 40% and the top 10% and think about the shares of this different groups of persons for income and for wealth. If you think about the bottom 50% globally, their share of total income is just 8.5%. The situation is dire if you think about it from wealth. The bottom 50%, their share of the total global wealth is just 2%. Why this is striking for us is that this just puts countries into the so-called G7, G20 and this is what leads to the decisions that they make globally which invariably affects us.”Prof Samuel Kobina Annim
Public sector earnings in the country
The government statistician highlighted that it is important for the country to mimic or contemplate on the global picture at the country level. He conceded that an equal state, althought it “can never happen”, the GSS’s inequality publication is intended to push policy makers to drive the country towards an equal state.
“Indeed, what we all want is fairness which is equity and the conversation around equity should start with inequality. If you don’t know your state of inequality you cannot strive to be fair… We emphasized that it’s just a means it’s not an end… We put out this to say that if one ministry is on the average getting this income, does it mean that this ministry is more productive than this other ministry?…”Prof Samuel Kobina Annim
Prof Annim emphasized that the conversation about inequality is also about the government working towards a state of fairness that can push the country’s Gross Domestic Product up and the only way it can do that is through productivity. He revealed that there is the need to appreciate the link between inequality and productivity to attain the latter.
“A very basic theory in economics is about the relationship between economic inequality, growth and development. If a country begins to grow, inequality begins to go up, if the country reaches a steady state where its growth is consistent and gradually moving up, inequality begins to reduce and that is when as a country you begin to think about development. We have never been able to sustain our growth, we have never been able to say that this is the peak of our inequality… Inequality has been growing and that is why our development is still a step away although we see spikes of growth slowdown and so on.”Prof Samuel Kobina Annim
Furthermore, Prof Annim indicated that the report is representative only for the public work in Ghana to enable stakeholders think through how the systems run.