Editorial : Stimulus package meant to assist MSMEs stay in business

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The National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) has said that one of the major goals of the GH¢1billion stimulus package is to afford businesses an opportunity to retain their human resource as a means to help reduce the number of layoffs that may ensue due to COVID-19 economic challenges.

Some interest groups like the TUC believe the stimulus package is inadequate; but though the stimulus package would be spread out thin – considering the number of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, (MSMEs) that will be applying for the capital – the money is primarily to address issues of input supplies, production capacity, employee management, among others: hence the call by the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) for beneficiaries to use the money wisely.

In order for MSMEs which have been grossly affected by the COVID-19 restrictions to not lay-off workers and increase the spiral of unemployment, government decided to intervene to ensure such entities can retain their critical staff and use some for other needs like input supplies and to prop-up their productive capacities.

Government announced the GH¢1billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) as part of enhanced measures to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 on households, contain disruption to economic activities, and rescue and revitalise industries.

CAP was subsequently approved by Parliament on April 9 this year, and voted GH¢600million as soft loans for businesses – especially those in the MSMEs sector.

Since outbreak of the virus in Ghana and resultant restrictions, there have been reports of lay-offs and slashing salaries by employers in the private sector; with the excuse that they cannot pay salaries due to impacts of the virus.

A 10-point safety guideline for the fight against coronavirus at workplaces – issued by the National Tripartite Committee (NTC) comprising government, employers and organised labour – appealed for employers to dialogue with their employees, instead of taking unilateral decisions on pay-cuts, lay-offs and other work-related measures as a result of COVID-19 impacts.

CAP was instituted as a stop-gap measure to ensure businesses are not unduly overburdened as a result of COVID-19 health restrictions. As restrictions are expected to be eased gradually, the package will help MSMEs get back on their feet.

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