Ministerial Vetting: Claims About Unemployment Rate, Banking Sector Job Losses False

When the minister-designate for the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations, Ignatius Baffour Awuah, took his turn at the Appointments Committee at the ongoing ministerial vetting in Parliament on February 17, 2020, he made claims about the unemployment rate in Ghana and the number of jobs lost as a result of the banking sector clean-up.

According to him, unemployment rate has reduced from 11.9% in 2015 to 7.1% in 2019. He made this claim referring to the Ghana Living Standard Survey.

When asked about the number of people who lost their jobs as a result of the clean-up of the banking sector, the minister-designate said about 3,000 jobs were lost.

Fact-Check Ghana has verified these claims and present the verdicts and explanations below.

Claim 1: “If you care to know, in 2015 when the Ghana Living Standard Surveys was done, the unemployment situation was 11.9%. In 2018 when same thing was done, the figure had dropped to 9.1%. And when subsequently, in late 2019, we called another one to be done, the figure had come down to 7.1%. So, if it’s the figure you want to have on unemployment data, that’s what I have.”

Verdict: Completely False

Explanation: Firstly, it is worth noting that on September 16, 2020, at the Meet the Press organised by the Ministry of Information, Ignatius Baffour-Awuah, then the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, quoted a somewhat different data from what he said at the vetting on the unemployment rate while referring to the same Ghana Living Standard Survey (GLSS).

“The Ghana Statistical Services in the latter part of 2015 conducted the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS 6) which had as one of its focus the issues of unemployment and they reported that unemployment rate was 11.9%.  In 2018, a similar survey was conducted and they reported that unemployment dropped from 11.9% to 8.4%,” Baffour-Awuah said.

The Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) is an initiative by the Ghana Statistical Service that provides information for understanding and monitoring living conditions in Ghana. The survey presents data on demographic characteristics of Ghanaian households, education, health, employment among other indicators.

The latest Ghana Living Standards Surveys are GLSS 6 and GLSS 7 which were released in 2014 and 2019 respectively. The GLSS explains unemployment to mean persons aged 15 years and older, who within the reference period, were not engaged in any work, had no attachment to a job or business and were “potentially” available for jobs.

According to the GLSS 6, released in 2014 and not in 2015 as the minister claims, unemployment rate was 5.2% in Ghana. The report states in page 57 that “The unemployment rate for persons aged 15 years and older is 5.2 percent; the rate is higher for females (5.5%) than for males (4.8%).”

In GLSS 7, released in 2019, the unemployment rate rose to 8.4%. The report states in page 90 that “the total unemployment rate for Ghana is 8.4 percent; the rate is higher among females (9.2%) than males (7.5%).” This is contrasted with the minister-designate’s claim that of 7.1%.

Claim 2: “The number of jobs lost as a result of the banking sector collapse was around the vicinity of 3,000.”

Verdict: Completely False

Explanation: In 2017, the Bank of Ghana commenced the financial sector restructuring—what many refer to as the banking sector clean-up exercise—as part of the central bank’s efforts in restoring confidence in the banking and specialised deposit-taking institutions. The restructuring was also to address issues concerning insolvent financial institutions which posed risks to the interest of depositors.

The financial sector restructuring led to five local banks—Unibank, Beige Bank, The Royal Bank, Construction and Sovereign— being declared insolvent. The banks were collapsed and merged into the Consolidated Bank Ghana Ltd. (CBG). It also led to the revocation of the licenses of about 347 microfinance companies and 15 savings and loans.

Fact-check Ghana in tracking the direct job losses following the sector clean-up can account for over 6,000. This is consistent with findings from other institutions like iwatch Africa. Below we provide a breakdown of some of the jobs lost with corresponding credible news reports as evidence.

GCB Takeover of UT and Capital Banks – 420 jobs lost

In May 2019, the management of the GCB bank confirmed that 300 workers of the defunct banks (UT and Capital Banks) were initially affected by the redundancy exercise. Another 120 were asked to go home after failing to meet GCB’s employment requirements.

Collapse of 15 Savings and Loans Companies – 2,000 jobs lost

In August 2019, the Executive Secretary of the Ghana Association of Savings and Loans Companies (GHASALC), Tweneboah Kodua Boakye, confirmed to the media that about 2,000 employees are expected to lose their jobs following the revocation of the license of 15 savings and loans.

“We are looking at employees in excess of 2,000. That is for the 15 savings and loans companies on the list,” Mr. Boakye said.

Collapse of 347 Microfinance Companies – 2,000 jobs lost

Following Bank of Ghana’s revocation of the license of 347 microfinance companies in May, 2019, Executive Director of the Microfinance Institution Network, Yaw Gyamfi, revealed to the media in June 2019 that over 2,000 permanent staff of these companies will lose their jobs.

Consolidated Bank Ghana (Merger of Some Local Banks)– 1,700 job losses

In August 2018, sources from Consolidated Bank Ghana (CBG) confirmed to the media that 1,700 employees will lose their jobs the following month. Out of the 1,700 employees, 1,000 were former employees of the Royal Bank, the Construction Bank, Unibank and the Sovereign Bank. The remaining 700 were mobile bankers of the erstwhile BEIGE Bank.

Below is a table presentation of the number of jobs lost from the financial sector clean-up:

Restructuring Exercise Job Losses
GCB Bank takeover of UT Bank and Capital Bank 420
Consolidated Bank (Merger of some local banks) 1,700
347 Microfinance Companies license revoked 2,000
15 Savings and Loans license revoked 2,000
Total 6,120

While the data above is not exhaustive of the job losses resulting from financial sector clean-up, it is enough evidence to prove that there were more job losses than the 3,000 the minister-designate stated.

Also, the data is only accounting for direct job losses. There are other outsourced staff who may have been affected by the clean-up exercise that are not accounted for in this report.

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