President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has outlined new set of measures to cushion the private sector from the effect of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic which is ravaging all economies.
In a May Day (workers day) speech on national television, Friday, he announced that “government has extended the tax filing date from April to June; through negotiations with the banks,” adding “we have ensured a two per cent reduction of interest rates by banks, effective last month; additionally, the banks have granted a six-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.”
Furthermore, the President indicated that “in collaboration with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), Business & Trade Associations and selected commercial and rural banks, government will, from this month of May, roll out a soft loan scheme up to a total of GH¢600 million to support micro, small and medium scale businesses.”
Loans disbursed are expected to have a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period.
He therefore, described the decision by the commercial banks, with the support of the Bank of Ghana, to institute a three billion cedi credit and stimulus package, to help revitalise industries, especially in the pharmaceutical, hospitality, services, and manufacturing sectors.
He said that Covid-19 had revealed the ‘ingenuity’ and ‘can-do spirit’ of the Ghanaian in job-creation, explaining “It has stimulated our capacity to produce for ourselves, and is making us depend on the things we make and grow for our own survival.”
The President added “this is clear manifestation of our potential to be able to move this country to a situation of self-sufficiency,” insisting “out of adversity comes opportunity” and that the ‘Veronica Bucket’ has won universal acclaim for its inventiveness.
He also said “Ghanaian scientists are working hard on the discovery of an African vaccine to counter the virus, and of a test-kit suitable for our conditions.”
“Today, we are able to produce in increasingly large quantities—sanitizers and essential personal protective equipment required by our healthcare workers to fight the virus. We have to do even more,” he emphasised and that “it has also led to a paradigm shift in work management protocols and the mainstreaming of digital technology in all aspects of our working lives.”
President Akufo-Addo then directed the Minister for Employment and Labour Relations to lead a national dialogue on the “Future of Work” to fashion out a national strategy for the country judging from what the Covid-19 pandemic has been able to do.
He said the government would intensify the implementation of the four-point national strategy on formalization to facilitate the identification and provision of support, relief and stimulus packages for businesses and workers in these difficult times.
He assured organized labour of the government’s commitment to continue to deepen its engagement with them, as it tried to mitigate the adverse impact of Covid-19 on the economy, businesses and jobs.