My father retired after working for Ghana Commercial Bank for thirty three years (33), his reward for helping build a formidable local bank with branches outside this country was a deep freezer and plague for meritorious service.
So imagine my surprise when I heard that 504 million United States dollars, has been expended to purchase gold watches for 72 staff of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), who have served for 30 years and above and were due for retirement this year and next year were to benefit as part of their retirement package.
This is the only country, where we all know our reward, but do not know what exactly we are to do to earn that reward.
How can one state institution, which has the responsibility or better still the custodians of our money, decides to use such a colossal amount for a thank you, is something, I have been trying to convince myself that it was justified, but try as I do, I can’t.
Every worker, who has dedicated his life to the building of this country, deserves to retire to a comfortable life. Comfort, cannot find expression in gold watches, which at the age of 70, you need to strain your eyes to read the time.
At a certain age, it is fashionable to wear certain things, including watches, but as you age, they no longer mean much to either you or your work.
The Central Bank, should have found an appropriate package or parting gift for its workers than a gold watch, which some of them, would probably not wear, until their maker calls them.
No amount of words, convincing, press statements etc, could justify this obscene expenditure at this period of our nationhood.
How many departments has the bank, how many people head those departments, such that, this amount was what was required to buy the watches for 72 staff.
Is it the case that, every staff from watchman to the governor, is entitled to this generous, but unwarranted service benefit?
For some time now, tears have been flowing in the homes of many unsuspecting Ghanaians, who were defrauded by Savings and Loans Companies.
A lot of families have lost loved ones; people have lost their livelihoods, some even committed suicide, because officials of the Bank of Ghana, failed to do their job.
If they were mindful of the awkward position they have putting the government, they would have decided against this purchase and rather said the money should be channeled to defray part of the monies owed customers of DKM.
Has the bank ever engaged in any Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), if they have I have never heard of it?
Not too long ago, the Accra Psychiatric hospital, threatened closure, because the facility was saddled with indebtedness, what prevented the Bank
of Ghana, to see the cry of the facility as national crisis that needed attention. This huge money could have gone a long way to help stabilize the situation at the health facility.
I am not for a moment suggesting that, staff of Bank of Ghana, do not deserve a pat on the back, they deserve their due, because their job is one of the most difficult one in the country.
Whether we fall or rise depend on the monetary policy the bank will introduce and enforce.
But then, what do we consider appropriate under the circumstances we find ourselves. A gold watch cannot be the only thing that could be given to
someone, who has dedicated his entire working career to the service of mother Ghana.
The amount might just be the tip of the iceberg, what would go to them in terms of money could be enough to build ten Day Senior Secondary Schools, the president is delivering.
The story of DKM, is just one of many of such schemes scattered across the country, the central bank is yet to tell us, what steps are being put in place to prevent future occurrence.
We are here not discussing monetary policy or reforms in the banking sector, but rather what 72 staff of the Bank are taking home, as part of their severance package.
Another ugly side to the whole watch saga is the decision by the bank which had obtained approval by the Public Procurement Authourity (PPA), to sole source the whole deal.
A state institution like the Central bank, should be the last to engage in any act that could be interpreted as creating job for somebody or circumventing a process for any reason that could not be explained away.
Whiles trying to shore up our foreign reserve in order to arrest the depreciation of the cedi, the bank did not think it wise to buy a product that is manufactured in Ghana, but Switzerland.
The whole grown policies being pursued by the government is with the full collaboration of the Central bank, the government cannot make any headway without the support of the bank, so why do something that would defeat the purpose of the whole policy.
As bad as the whole package looks, making it public and compelling the bank to issue a statement, was a significant step towards ending it. Those who have enjoyed it in the past are lucky to get away with it, those who are still with the bank, can decide to quit the bank if the gold watch is
Staff of the bank are among the well paid workers in this country, their allowances and bonuses, unlike other workers are non-taxable, meaning they get to take home everything that comes to them.
Teachers, doctors, nurses, civil servants, etc, retire home to death, because what they are given is not enough to last them a year, if we all agree, then every worker in Ghana upon retirement, must be given a gold watch.
Why still feed the fat cow?