The General Agricultural Workers’ Union (GAWU) thinks the government’s estimate of 745,000 jobs provided under the planting for food and jobs programme might be exaggerated.
Admitting that he couldn’t “vouch for those figures,” the Union’s General Secretary, Edward Kareweh said on Eyewitness News that the number will have to be treated to more scrutiny.
The Food and Agriculture Minister, Dr. Afriyie Akoto announced that 745,000 had been created under the first phase of the Planting for Food and Jobs programme with the caveat that the jobs were “unofficial jobs.”
The minister explained to the media that the jobs were created in rural areas and were essentially not taxable and did not contribute to pension funds following the earlier scepticism that met the announced figure.
The figures were based on the number of additional inputs as well as improved seeds and fertilizers supplied to participating farmers in 2017.
Jobs must be tangible
Mr. Kareweh expects the jobs created in the sector to be tangible as he noted that “if someone is in employment, you can see, so it is easier to verify. When you don’t see, it does not exist.”
Furthermore, he said the government needed to show how those jobs are generated because “if we are indeed able to generate such jobs, it would endear confidence in whatever we are doing and then, within a very short period, in our development trajectory, we will be able to curb the huge unemployment levels in our economy. But for the 745,000 jobs, we need to interrogate it further and the minister needs to come out much and prove to all of us that indeed these jobs have been created.”
To highlight how the figures could possibly be skewed, Mr. Kareweh remarked that, “even within the crop sub-sector, it is only five crops that were targeted and only five crops with 200,000 farmers could generate 745,000 jobs for us?”
Per the government’s trajectory, he said the crop sector alone could generate 2 million jobs and “within two years, there will virtually be no unemployment in this country and that doesn’t appear to be so.”
Aside from this, Mr. Kareweh said the jobs created needed to be sustainable.
“If you give jobs to someone for only a short period, two days or five days, that is not the type of job we are talking about and no one can live on a five-day job that has been given to them… we need to actually move beyond just putting the figures out there and also talk about jobs people can live on.”