Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama

Ghanaian President, John Dramani Mahama

Ghana’s doctors are likely to call off a strike that is seen as an early test of the government’s ability to hold to the terms of an International Monetary Fund programme designed to restore economic stability.

The Ghana Medical Association union is under pressure from political, cultural and religious leaders to end its two-week industrial action over conditions of service, Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei, president of the union, said on Friday.

“We may go back to work because of appeals from chiefs, religious leaders and other opinion leaders. We are likely to return to work, and not as happy people,” he said.

Doctors are due to meet at midday local time at the union’s headquarters in Accra to decide whether to call off the strike that so far has involved the withdrawal of emergency services.

They would also decide whether the action would be stepped-up their industrial action.

An end to the strike would be viewed as a victory for President John Mahama’s National Democratic Congress, ahead of what is expected to be a tightly contested election in 2016.

It would also alleviate pressure on the government, which is at pains to maintain fiscal discipline four months into a three-year IMF programme.

The programme is aims to jump-start growth that has slowed sharply in the last 18 months.

Ghana was for years one of Africa’s economic stars due to its exports of cocoa, gold and oil but the government ran into fiscal trouble in 2012 .

The trouble came partly because of spending on public sector wages. A fall in commodity prices has also hurt revenue.

The IMF programme risks putting the government on a collision course with powerful public sector unions who complain of inequities in the pay system.

They also say the value of their wages is eroded by inflation, which stood at 17 per cent in July.