International trade, which has been badly hit by the pandemic is set to recover after President Nana Akufo-Addo announced the lifting of restrictions on air travel, making it possible for international flights to resume business fully on today, Tuesday September 1, 2020.
The First Quarter Bulletin report shows taxes generated from international trade recorded GH¢829.7 million, lower than the budget target of GH¢1.2 billion, with total import duty falling 34 percent below target and recording a year on year decline in growth of 42.5 percent – all due to the closure of the country’s borders.
Hence, with the reopening of the air borders, after installation of COVID-19 testing facilities and simulation exercises carried out at the Kotoka International Airport proved successful, airlines can resume business in Ghana and passengers can go on with their travel plans, thereby, resuming international trade.
Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research at the University of Ghana, Professor Peter Quartey says government’s move to open the airport, is a good one as it will boost local businesses and domestic revenue generation that is so needed, thereby, aiding the economy to recover quickly from the ruins of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The airport plays a very vital role in our economy. It links us to the external world. Businesses can thrive if we have our airports open, whereby, people move from one point to the other. Some will also come in to undertake business activities such as meetings, conferences, etc and these bring revenue to local businesses and government.
Customs at the airport collect revenue on behalf of the government; immigration service also collects revenue for the government, and so opening it is very critical to economic recovery,” he said in an interview with the B&FT.
“Our airports cannot be closed forever because the facility has to even be maintained, and the loan we took to finance terminal 3 must be repaid. We just have to ensure that all the safety protocols are observed so that we do not also expose ourselves to unnecessary risk. All that we must ensure is that we implement the protocols as have been outlined,” he added.
Even though the air border is open for business, the President further emphasised that land borders remain closed till the government is convinced it has the necessary facilities in place to avoid or limit the importation of the virus into the country. This, Prof. Quartey says is necessary as the process of opening up all borders of the country must be implemented gradually.
“It should be a gradual process. If the land borders are to open, we need to have testing equipment to ensure that we are safe. There are lots of cross border movements across the land borders so if we are not careful, we will import many cases. I believe we can learn from the experience from the opening of the airport to open the land borders. So it is good we start with the airport first, then we use the experience to iron out any rough edges in the opening of the land borders,” he said.
Safety protocols in place at the airport
The airport authority has put the following measures in place to avoid the importation of the virus into the country.
- Any passenger arriving in Ghana must be in possession of a negative COVID-19 PCR test result from an accredited laboratory in the country of origin. The test should have been done not more than seventy-two (72) hours before the scheduled departure from the country of origin. All airlines have been instructed to ensure compliance with this directive for all passengers wishing to travel to Ghana, and those airlines who fail in this regard will be duly sanctioned.
- Disembarking passengers must always wear face masks.
- Upon disembarking from the aeroplane, each passenger will undergo a mandatory COVID-19 test at the airport terminal, at a fee to be borne by the passenger. The test result will be available within thirty (30) minutes.
- Passengers, who test positive for COVID-19, will be handled by the health authorities for further clinical assessment and management.