President Akufo-Addo has outlined a number of relief packages for business community to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is to cushion them during the two weeks partial lockdown in the capital, Accra, Tema and Kumasi and its surrounding areas as announced by government in a bid to contain the spread of the corona (covid-19) virus.
In a national broadcast late Friday night, President Akufo-Addo said “as a responsive Government, we will continue to implement bold measures to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus on businesses and households and ensure that job losses are minimized.”
He said “the Minister for Finance has been directed by me to prepare, for approval by Parliament, a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme to address the disruption in economic activities, the hardship of our people, and to rescue and revitalize our industries. He will, then, immediately make available a minimum of one billion cedis (GH¢1 billion) to households and businesses, particularly small and medium scale enterprises.”
The President further mindicated that “commercial banks are, in addition, responding to the Bank of Ghana’s 1.5% decrease in the Policy Pate and 2% in reserve requirement with a three billion-cedi (GH¢3 billion) facility, to support industry especially in the pharmaceutical, hospitality, service and manufacturing sectors.”
“We are providing additional relief, such as extension of the tax filing date from April to June; a two percent (2%) reduction of interest rates by banks, effective 1st April, 2020; the granting by the banks of a six (6) month moratorium of principal repayments to entities in the airline and hospitality industries, i.e. hotels, restaurants, car rentals, food vendors, taxis, and uber operators.”
“ All other sector credit exposures will be reviewed on a case by case basis; mobile money users can send up to one hundred cedis (GH¢100) for free; and a one hundred percent (100%) to three hundred percent (300%) increase in the daily transaction limits for mobile money transactions”, he noted.
The Bank of Ghana has predicted a worst-case GDP growth rate scenario of 2.5% for 2020, should the virus continue to linger for the rest of the year, the effects of which would economy would be dire.
President however, said, “as we have demonstrated over the course of the last three years, where we inherited an economy that was growing at 3.4% and transformed it into one which has grown by an average of 7% over the last three (3) years, I assure you that we know what to do to bring back our economy back to life. What we do not know how to do is to bring people back to life.”
For the next two weeks, he has urged, especially residents in the affected areas of Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi, to be reminded, every day, that “ the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus is your front door”, saying “if you cross it, you and your family will likely be infected. So, please, stay at home.”
“It is vitally important that each one of us, in all parts of the country, continues to observe the social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols, for they are the weapons of our defence against the virus”, he emphasised.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu