Home World Ghanaian SMEs to get GH¢1bn, other relief packages to mitigate coronavirus losses

Ghanaian SMEs to get GH¢1bn, other relief packages to mitigate coronavirus losses

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Government has announced measures aimed at mitigating the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on Ghanaian businesses and households.

Delivering
his fourth national televised address on the state’s strategies to stem the
spread of the deadly virus in Ghana, President Nana Akufo-Addo announced a
relief package of at least GH¢1 billion for households and businesses,
particularly small and medium scale enterprises.

“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 revitalise
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,”
he said Friday night.

Also, commercial
banks across are expected to support local industries, especially in the
pharmaceutical, hospitality, service and manufacturing sectors with an
estimated GH¢3 billion facility in response to the Bank of Ghana’s 1.5%
decrease in Policy Rate and 2% in reserve requirement.

Additional
relief to businesses which the President announced during the televised address
is an extension of the tax filing date from April to June as well as a 2%
reduction of interest rates by banks, effective April 1, 2020.

Furthermore,
banks are expected to grant 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.

“All other sector credit exposures will be reviewed on a case by case basis; mobile money users can send up to GH¢100 for free; and a 100% to 300% increase in the daily transaction limits for mobile money transactions,” the President reiterated recent directives issued by the central bank.

The President on Friday also announced that movements in some urban areas in the country will be restricted from Monday for two weeks as part of measures to control the spread of the coronavirus.

The lockdown affects areas in Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi, where significant numbers of infections have been recorded.

As of Friday, March 27, 2020, Ghana has recorded 137 confirmed cases

Read the full text of the President address below

Address to the nation by President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on updates to Ghana’s enhanced response to the coronavirus pandemic, on Friday, 27th March, 2020

Fellow Ghanaians, good evening.

I have come to your homes, once again, as promised, on the
matter which continues to grip not only the attention of the nation, but also
of the entire world – the Coronavirus pandemic.

At the time of my last broadcast, some six (6) days ago,
Ghana had recorded twenty-one (21) confirmed cases of infections, with
virtually all the cases being imported. I took the step to close all our
borders, and I ordered a mandatory quarantine and testing of all the one
thousand and thirty (1,030) persons who arrived at the airport at the time of
the announcement till the day the borders were closed. Indeed, seventy-eight
(78) of the persons put under quarantine have since tested positive for the
virus. It is these additional confirmations that have increased dramatically
our total number of cases to one hundred and thirty-seven (137). Indeed, 97% of
all confirmed cases are travelers who brought the disease from outside our
shores. Of the remaining fifty-nine (59) confirmed cases, fifty-three (53) are
receiving treatment and are doing well, and they will be discharged should
their second test results prove negative. Fourteen (14) of them are being
managed at home in self-isolation. Four (4) persons, who had tested positive
for the virus, but were aged and had other serious, underlying medical
conditions, have lost their lives. May their souls rest in perfect peace.
Thankfully, two (2) persons have made full recoveries.

Fellow Ghanaians, the oath of office I swore on 7th January,
2017 demands that I dedicate myself to the service and well-being of you, the
Ghanaian people. It is my job to protect you, and I am determined to do just
that.

As I have said before, all that Government is doing is
intended to achieve five (5) key objectives – limit and stop the importation of
the virus; contain its spread; provide adequate care for the sick; limit the
impact of the virus on social and economic life; and inspire the expansion of
our domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance.

Thus far, we have succeeded in halting any more importations
of the virus into our country, and I thank the overwhelming majority of you for
adhering to the good hygiene and social distancing protocols announced in my
first broadcast to you.

However, prevailing circumstances mean that stricter
measures have to be put in place to contain and halt the spread of the virus
within our country, especially in Accra, Tema, Kasoa and Kumasi, which have
been identified by the Ghana Health Service as the “hotspots” of the
infections. In doing this, we cannot afford to copy blindly, and do all the
things some other well-developed countries are doing. There is no
one-size-fits-all approach to this pandemic. We have a unique situation in our
country, and we must take it into account in dealing with the disease, whilst
meeting all the six (6) key WHO guidelines on the most effective ways of
combating the pandemic. Even though it may be said that the number of our
infections is still, relatively, low, if we act now purposefully, we have a
chance of preventing an escalation of our numbers.

So, effective 1am 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.

In Greater Accra, the following areas will be affected:

1.          Accra
Metropolis;

2.          Tema
Metropolis;

3.          Tema West Municipality;

4.          Ledzokuku Municipality;

5.          Krowor
Municipality;

6.          Adentan
Municipality;

7.          Ashiaman
Municipality;

8.          La-Nkwantanang-Madina
Municipality;

9.          La-Dade-Kotopon Municipality;

10.      Okaikwei North Municipality;

11.      Ablekuma North Municipality;

12.      Ablekuma West
Municipality;

13.      Ablekuma
Central Municipality;

14.      Ayawaso East
Municipality;

15.      Ayawaso North
Municipality;

16.      Ayawaso West
Municipality;

17.      Ayawaso
Central Municipality

18.      Ga West
Municipality;

19.      Ga North
Municipality;

20.      Ga Central
Municipality;

21.      Ga South
Municipality;

22.      Ga East
Municipality;

23.      Korle-Klottey
Municipality;

24.      Weija/Gbawe
Municipality; 

25.      Kpone
Katamanso Municipality; and

26.      Awutu Senya
East Municipality.

In the Greater Kumasi Metropolitan Area and contiguous
districts, the following areas are affected:

1.            Kumasi
Metropolis;

2.            Asokwa
Municipality;

3.            Suame
Municipality;

4.            Old Tafo
Municipality;

5.           
Oforikrom Municipality;

6.            Asokore
Mampong Municipality;

7.            Kwadaso
Municipality;

8.            Atwima
Nwabiagya Municipality;

9.            Kwabre
East Municipality;

10.        Ejisu
Municipality;

11.        Afigya-Kwabre
South District;

12.        Bosomtwi
District;

13.        Atwima
Kwanwoma District; and

14.        Atwima
Nwabiagya North District.

This, in essence, means that everyone resident in these
areas must stay at home for the next two weeks. However, if you must go out, it
must only be to get essential items such as food, medicine, water, undertake
banking transactions, or to use public toilet facilities. But, as much as
possible, stay at home.

There shall be, during this period, no inter-city movement
of vehicles and aircrafts for private or commercial purposes for the areas of
the restrictive measures, except for vehicles and aircrafts providing essential
services and those carrying cargo. Riders of motorbikes are not allowed to
carry any additional person, and all intra-city passenger vehicles, such as
trotros and taxis, must reduce the number of passengers in order to observe
appropriate social distancing and hygiene protocols. Additionally, all
commercial vehicle stations shall observe appropriate hygiene protocols and
social distancing. The Ministry of Transport has engaged the transport
operators and unions in this regard. The Ministry of Local Government and Rural
Development has also engaged with the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies
and the leaders of the market associations in the country to make satisfactory
arrangements about the operation of the markets that ensure observance of
social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols. In any event, only persons
involved in the food value chain can operate in the markets during this period.

Individuals and institutions providing the following
services shall be exempted from the restrictions:

                         
i        Members of the Executive,
Legislature and the Judiciary;

                         
ii        production, distribution
and marketing of food, beverages, pharmaceuticals, medicine, paper and plastic
packages;

                        
iii       environmental and
sanitation activities;

                         iv      
staff of VALCO;

                         
v       road and railway
construction workers;

                         vi      
mining workers;

                        vii      fisherfolk;

                      
viii     members of the security agencies
assigned lawful duties;

                        
ix       staff of electricity,
water, telecommunications, e-commerce and digital service providers; and

                         
x       staff of fuel stations.

 Fellow Ghanaians, to
accelerate the contact tracing process, and ensure we curtail the spread of the
virus in the shortest time, we will use the military and police to assist
health authorities to expediate the process. We will also pursue a policy of
testing ALL CONTACTS of people tested positive.

The affected areas, and, indeed, all other regions have
earmarked designated isolation and treatment centres for the management of
suspected and confirmed cases, as well as the selection of facilities for
mandatory quarantine is being carried out. An intensive public health education
and community awareness on social distancing and hand washing will be carried
out.

It is very important that we protect all healthcare
providers with Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs)to make sure they do not
contract the virus in the process of protecting our lives. Government has,
therefore, taken delivery of additional PPEs and more are being procured.
Distribution of seventeen thousand (17,000) coveralls, three hundred and fifty
thousand (350,000) masks, seventeen thousand (17,000) goggles, two thousand
four hundred (2,400) non-contact thermometers, three hundred and fifty thousand
(350,000) gloves, twenty-five thousand (25,000) sanitsers, and thirty-thousand
(30,000) tests kits are ongoing for healthcare personnel and those undertaking
contact tracing and testing. We are recruiting one thousand (1,000) community
health workers and an additional thousand (1,000) volunteers to help in this
endeavour. One hundred pick-up vehicles and two thousand, five hundred (2,500)
tablets have been mobilized for the exercise.

Fellow Ghanaians, I am urging all of you to bear with these
additional measures. They are being done in the interest of all of us. They
are, hopefully, only for a short while. These additional measures, together
with those earlier announced, are what will help us defeat the virus. And, we
must be united in our determination and efforts to overcome this challenge.
This, certainly, is not the time for politicking or the display of partisanship.
The virus does not care which party you belong to, neither is it, as we have
seen, a respecter of persons. The enemy is the virus, and not each other.

As I have stated in my earlier broadcasts, all the measures
I have announced tonight will be subject to constant review.

Fellow Ghanaians, we are in this together, and Government
will stand by you. We are aware that there will be discomfort and difficulties
for all of us over the next couple of weeks. 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. 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.

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

Let me also reiterate that the ban on public gatherings,
religious or social, is still in force. Anyone, irrespective of status,
religion or ethnicity, who is found to be flouting them will be dealt with
fully in accordance with law. The security services have been clothed with the
necessary power to enforce these measures, and I assure you that they will do
so responsibly, but without fear or favour, ill-will or malice.

Fellow Ghanaians, with the Bank of Ghana predicting 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 on our economy would be dire.
However, 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.

 We will, therefore, protect
people’s lives, then their livelihoods.

For the next two weeks, I urge all of you, 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. 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.

I am announcing tonight the establishment of a COVID-19
Fund, to be managed by an independent board of trustees, and chaired by former
Chief Justice, Sophia Akuffo, to receive contributions and donations from the
public to assist in the welfare of the needy and the vulnerable. I have
directed the Controller and Accountant General to pay my next three months’
salary, i.e. April, May and June, into this Fund. Let me also thank, from the
bottom of my heart, the churches, financial institutions and individuals who
have already made donations to help in this fight. God richly bless them.  

We can defeat this virus if we all commit ourselves to
respecting all the measures that have been outlined. I am confident that
Ghanaians will comply with them, and the security services will not have to
intervene, with extraordinary means, to enforce them. The love of country is
deeply embedded in all of us, and I assure you that the security forces will
conduct themselves with the necessary professionalism.

 Meserɛ mo, nsɛm aa
makayi, yɛn nyinaa yɛn mbɔ mɔden na yɛn disu. Nyankopɔn adaroma, ɛbɛ boa yɛn.

Minkpa nyɛ fai, saneɛ ni nwieɛ, nyɛ feɛ nyɛ bɔ mɔden ni nyɛ
ye nɔ. Nyɔmo dromɔ, e baa wa wɔ feɛ. 

We have prayed to Almighty God to heal our land, and I know
that, by the Grace of God, He has heard our cry. Nonetheless, each one of us
must do his or her part.

May God bless us all, and our homeland Ghana, and make her
great and strong.

I thank you for your attention. Good night.



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