IMF Bailout: 2,000 nurses, midwives jobless

The dream of over 2,000 qualified nurses and midwives to be offered jobs after successfully completing National Service seems to be fizzling into thin air as the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) conditionality of reducing the public sector wage bill to tax revenue to about 35% ties government’s hands from fresh employment.

Checks by The Finder indicate that the Ministry of Health has written to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning for clearance to employ the over 2,000 qualified nurses and midwives, but the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning says there is no money.

The wage bill in 2014 absorbed about 50% of total tax revenue, and the IMF wants government to freeze employment into the public sector, except the education and health sectors.

Even for employment into education and health sectors, the Ministry of Finance has to collaborate with the Public Services Commission (PSC) and Office of the Head of Civil Service to ensure that recruitment takes place only after Ministry of Finance approval.

According to the IMF, the effective date of recruitment of new staff into the public service should not precede the financial clearance date, warning that sanctions under the law will be applied to non-compliant controlling officers.

The Coalition of Unemployed Nurses and Midwives, in collaboration with the Ghana Nurses/Midwives Trainees’ Association (GNMTA), threatened a demonstration on Monday, June 29, 2015, but Minister of Health Alex Segbefia invited their leaders to a meeting two weeks ago and pleaded for time to address the problem.

Even though the Minister could not give the angry nurses and midwives any deadline to resolve the problem, the nurses and midwives have given themselves one month to hear some positive news from the Minister or they will embark on demonstration.

The unemployed graduate nurses and midwives, who have completed two and three years’ training programmes, say they have been bonded by government to serve the state for five years after school because taxpayers’ money was spent on them in school.

Marcus Sarfo, National Co-ordinator, Coalition of Unemployed Nurses/Midwives, told The Finder that they filled Ghana Health Service/Ministry of Health application forms for employment in February but did not receive any feedback as of today.

Mr Alex SegbefiaHe explained that until this year, qualified nurses/midwives were posted one month after completing National Service.

Marcus Sarfo stated that qualified nurses and midwives in the Northern Region have been posted, leaving products of nine regions stranded.

He said even though their initial bond states that they would be posted to regions where they schooled, government has now decided to post them to any part of the country, and they have agreed.

Last Friday, the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, appealed to the government to reconsider its freeze on employment and grant public universities and other higher educational institutions a special dispensation for them to fill vacancies in their academic staff.

He said the government’s policy on recruitment, in recent times, made it difficult for the universities to recruit new staff or replace those who had retired or died, as well as introduce new and strategic programmes.

As a result, the Asantehene said some public universities were considering cutting down intake in the coming years, and cautioned that if nothing was done about the situation, it could put strenuous pressure on current staff and thereby impede academic work.

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