As part of measures to mitigate the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic in Ghana to sustain businesses, President Akufo-Addo has announced that all households and small to medium scale enterprises are to benefit from a stimulus package of one billion Ghana cedis.
According to him, this is part of the creation of a Coronavirus Alleviation Program to revive the country’s affected industries and address the distraction in economic activities caused by the pandemic.
He made the announcement when he announced a partial lock-down on Friday night, March 27, to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country.
“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 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” he said.
The President also added that “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”.
The partial lock-down of parts of Greater Accra and Kumasi, will take effect at 1:00am on Monday, March 30, 2020, and will last for two weeks.
The decision, according to the President is to help curb the spread of COVID-19 which has led to four deaths and infected some 137 people.
“…effective 1:00 am on Monday, 30th March, some forty-eight hours from now, I have imposed, pursuant to the powers granted the President of the Republic, under the Imposition of Restrictions Act, 2020 (Act 1012), restrictions on movement of persons in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area (GAMA, which includes Awutu Senya East), and the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and contiguous districts, for a period of two (2) weeks, subject to review. It will give us the opportunity to try to halt the spread of the virus, and scale-up effectively contact tracing of persons who have come into contact with infected persons, test them for the virus, and, if necessary, quarantine and isolate them for treatment, should they prove to have the virus,” he added.
The global number of COVID-19 cases is almost 600,000 with over 27,000 deaths.
Prior to the President’s announcement, several businesses and organizations had called for support to stay in business, as they have been hit hard already by the economic impact caused by the virus.
The Hospitality and tourism sector is one of the most affected sectors especially due to Ghana’s existing temporary ban on public gatherings and travel restrictions, which has slowed down patronage.
In Accra for instance, some hotels have laid-off casual workers in order to stay in business.
Some operators of restaurants in the national capital, also say their activities have been severely hampered as they’re unable to host large numbers of people due to the enforcement of the social distancing rule and the ban on public gathering.
Many companies have also asked their staff to work from home in a bid to avoid the spread of the virus.