GHC 600m for small businesses starts this month – Akufo-Addo
President Nana Akufo-Addo has revealed that disbursement of a GHC 600 million stimulus package to aid small businesses affected by the coronavirus will commence in May.
As part of measures to support ailing firms, the government earmarked the funds out of a $1billion International Monetary Fund (IMF) facility.
Addressing workers on May Day, Mr Akufo-Addo said, “the government will from this month of May, rollout a soft-loan scheme up to a total of GHC 600million to support micro, small and medium scale companies”.
The flexible loan will have a two-year repayment period.
Mr Akufo-Addo also welcomed moves by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to institute a GHC GHC 3bn credit and stimulus for pharmaceutical, hospitality, manufacturing and service sectors.
According to him, “Job creation is one of the priorities of this government”.
He emphasised, “A weak response to the threat of COVID-19 will jeopardise the gains made to create a buoyant economy and will worsen the lives and livelihoods of all Ghanaians”.
Consequently, “the government has put in place a resilient and recovery plan hinged on the coronavirus alleviation programme to support businesses and households with the overarching aim to ensure economic activity and sustain livelihoods.”
To support shortfalls in revenue and unbudgeted expenditure, he observed that, “Discussions are ongoing with world bank for more funds.”
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) is working with BoG to find innovative resources to strengthen the economy, particularly industry and agriculture.
For his part, the Secretary-General of TUC, Anthony Dr Yaw Baah, emphasised the need for a better stabilisation and stimulus package for businesses and households.
For him, the GHC 600m announcement was a good start but “more needed to support businesses.”
He observed that the “devastations [of the coronavirus] to our economy and social lives would take years to restore.”
He said it was imminent for the government to “develop and quickly implement an economic response strategy to deal with the economic impact of COVID-19 pandemic.”
He asked for support for industries that can produce local raw materials to feed the manufacturing sector. Additionally, he impressed upon the government to compel banks to allow businesses to access credit under flexible conditions.
The TUC leader believed that the suggested measures combined with tax reliefs for workers would mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on Ghana’s labour force.
He charged the public to “see the [COVID-19] fight as a shared responsibility and complement the government’s efforts”.
He said companies across the country should ensure compliance of COVID-19 protocols at all workplaces.
Also, firms must provide PPEs for staff, appoint focal persons to liaise with health authorities in cases of suspected cases, and constitute safety committees to deal with COVID-19 issues.
He pleaded with the government to also “consider supplying these [protective] masks to the most vulnerable people in our society, especially old people and our compatriots with disabilities.”