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NLC summons finance, education ministers over teachers' unpaid book allowance
The National Labour Commission (NLC) has summoned both the Finance and Education ministers to appear before it to explain why book and research allowances to university teachers have not been paid.
Members of the University Teachers Association of Ghana (UTAG) gave government an eight-day ultimatum, which ends Tuesday April 15, 2014, to pay their allowance or risk a nationwide boycott.
The two ministers Seth Terpker (Finance) and Professor Naana Opoku Agyeman (Education) - are therefore expected to appear before the NLC Tuesday with concrete steps taken to address the lecturers' concerns.
UTAG President Dr. Samuel Ofori Bekoe, told Joy News previous meeting which the lecturers have had with NLC and the two ministries -- in a bid to address sticking points in the payment of their book and research allowance -- have not yielded positive results.
He indicated that the lack of progress at these meetings was because subordinates, instead of the ministers themselves, were sent to arbitration.
According to Mr Bekoe, although government had indicated it was replacing the book and research allowance with a national research fund to better the lot of lecturers, monies allocated for new fund was less than what it used to give to lecturers.
“If you used GHc10 million to pay book and research allowance and you say in this new situation you are establishing something that is better (national research fund), however what you are putting down is GHc3.5 million, how can be better?” He quizzed.
University lecturers had stated in communique that the government’s decision to scrap teachers’ book and research allowance, and replace it with a national research fund was unacceptable.
The lecturers said although they were not against the creation of the fund, such a facility should not replace their book and research allowance.
The communiqué further stated that the objectives for the introduction of the book and research allowance was more relevant currently, due to the large numbers of students admitted to the public universities, which had increased the research burden on the lecturers in terms of theses and project supervision.
“If the government goes ahead with the proposed abolition of the book and research allowance, it will have grave implications for the future of the public universities in Ghana,” the communique had said.
On February 2, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning announced the release of GH¢3.75 million for the establishment of a research and innovation facility.
Consequently, the ministry authorised the Controller and Accountant General to open an account for the facility and transfer the amount into it.
A statement issued by the public relations unit of the ministry said the amount represented 25 per cent of the GH¢15 million set aside in the 2014 Budget Statement and Economic Policy for the purpose.
It was announced in the 2014 Budget Statement that to encourage more research work in tertiary institutions and to realise its full benefits, the government had decided to review the existing system of payment of book and research allowances and replace it with a research facility.