Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta says government is ready with a stimulus package of one billion cedis for industry and citizens as the country battles the spread of coronavirus in Ghana.
He told Parliament on Monday that the money has been made available to assist and improve manufacturing in the country in the wake of the pandemic.
“Mr. Speaker, that is why, to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and households and ensure that economic activities are sustained, whiles minimizing job losses, the President on Friday, March 27, 2020, announced the establishment of a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP).
“The Ministry of Finance will immediately release an amount of One Billion Ghana Cedis upon approval by Parliament. The Ministry is proposing to use the equivalent of USD 219 Million from the Stabilization Fund. The CAP will focus on areas that will provide maximum results in alleviating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic with a focus on protecting against job losses, protecting livelihoods, supporting small businesses, and ensuring the programme is efficiently and sustainably implemented.
“The CAP will seek additional funding for the following purposes; promotion of selected industries to shore up production for export and import substitution, to support SMEs and create jobs, to partner with Pension Funds and Insurance Funds to create guarantees and first loss instruments.
“Mr Speaker, my duty, as Finance Minister, is to begin, speedily and responsibly, the process of disbursing the funds, immediately the amount is approved by this House. Targeted businesses and households will include those in the health sector, education sector, hospitality industry, SMEs, and households hard hit by the Coronavirus. The specific details of the CAP and the instruments to allocate the resources will be fashioned out shortly,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Head of the Economics Department at the University of Ghana has lauded government for announcing a GH¢1 billion stimulus package for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Prof Peter Quartey, however, believes that the lack of information on how the funds can be accessed and who is entitled to benefit should be addressed.
“I wouldn’t say [¢1 billion] is enough but it is a good gesture. I was quite excited to hear that the government has made some moves.
“But my question is how? I don’t think I got the how. ¢1 billion for who? How does one qualify? I believe by now, we should have known the how, otherwise people will think it is just one of the political statements that won’t happen,” he said on Joy FM’s Super Morning Show.
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.