Even before government would finalize modalities for the disbursement of the stimulus package, the Trade Union Congress (TUC), has sent a caution to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) who may benefit, saying, the monies are not meant for expansion but to ensure the survival of businesses.
The Chairman for the Ashanti Regional Council of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Kofi Asare Asianowa told the B&FT in an interview that: “If you channel these monies into expansion and you don’t see your way clear and things do not actually normalize within the shortest possible time, what we are trying to avoid [a disaster] would hit us all because most people would have to stay at home.”
He added that already companies are in very difficult situations but with capital injection, they may be tempted to expand instead of focusing on survival, which should be their utmost intention. “If you are in difficult times and you are being supported, the basic principle is: you already have existing structures that are crumbling down and so we are helping you to hold onto that so that we can pass through this difficult time.”
His caution comes as government and key stakeholders in the business community wrap up on the modalities to share the GH¢600 million stimulus packages to SMEs.
Mr. Asare Asianowa wants government and key stakeholders to set up a strong monitoring team to regularly check up on firms that will benefit from the stimulus package and ensure they are using it for purposes that will keep businesses operational.
“If care is not taken, looking at how weak our monitoring systems are, some of these SMEs will go for the stimulus packages and they may end up doing things that we feel are not so core or essential at this moment. Then, they will come and tell us that they are still facing difficult and therefore there is the need to lay off workers.”
In his view, apart from keeping businesses operational, employers should ensure the prompt payment of salaries. “In fact, one of the things employers should be focusing on is wage payment. If you are not breaking even or you are not making any kind of headway and you are being supported by the government, you should rather look at how to sustain your human capital, which is the staff and still be able to engage them through this difficult time so that when you bounce back you can run your operations as normal.”
He was however quick to add that, this is not the time for employees to push for allowances. He believes, these times call for sacrifices and both parties must be willing to mutually let some allowances go for the survival of the business.
He is optimistic that, if employees, managers and board allowances are cut down, it will help to ensure the survival of many businesses. He also urged business to encourage more of its employees who can work from home to do so, in the bid to restructure operations, reduce utility cost and cut down “fuel and risk allowances.”
Chairman for the Ashanti Regional Council of the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Kofi Asare Asianowa