The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has formally made a request to Parliament to spend over GHS1.2 billion from the Contingency Fund as part of measures to contain the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Speaker of Parliament has referred the Finance Minister’s request to Parliament’s Finance Committee.
“These are extraordinary and sobering times; and we must respond with a deep a sense of social justice so that our very humanity is not compromised,” Mr. Ofori-Atta noted when he presented the statement on the floor of Parliament today, Wednesday, April 8, 2020.
The money from the Fund will be used for the GHS1 billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.
His statement outlined areas where the program will be targeted including a stimulus package for businesses and households, tax waivers and incentives for health workers and soft loans to small businesses.
The Finance Minister has already indicated that the cumulative effect of the novel coronavirus pandemic will cost Ghana GHS9.505 billion.
As part of other measures, the government has put in place a GHS600 million soft loan scheme with a two-year repayment plan for micro, small and medium scale businesses.
This is in collaboration with the National Board for Small Scale Industries, Business & Trade Associations and selected Commercial and Rural Banks.
Persons who access these loans will have a one-year grace period before they start repayment.
Mr. Ofori-Atta is also seeking the support of Parliament to amend the relevant laws to lower the cap of the Stabilization Fund from US$300 million to US$100 million.
This is to enable the government use the excess funds to bridge the gap created by the economic impact of the pandemic.
Among other interventions, the government will be taking care of water bills for all Ghanaians for April, May and June 2020.
Seven regions have so far recorded cases of the novel coronavirus with Ghana’s count standing at 304.