Editorial: Cabinet reviews economy amid COVID-19 impact

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Global merchandise trade is set to plummet by an estimated 13-32% this year (2020) because of COVID-19, trade analysts have indicated.

The pandemic has paralysed manufacturing networks and supply chains – especially in China, which accounts for 28% of global manufacturing output. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the global economy to an abrupt halt.

Within a span of less than five months, millions have been affected by COVID-19 and thousands have perished. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) points out that all regions will experience double-digit declines in trade, which will be worse than during the global financial crisis a decade ago.

Even as global trade might recover within a year, there are potential medium-term effects from the COVID-19 pandemic – notably, around supply chains and associated cross-border investment.

This crisis, together with public health measures such as social distancing and restrictions to mobility, is changing daily routines for workers and firms – and reducing their ability to generate income.

It is based on these assumptions and others that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and his Cabinet are holding a 3-day meeting to assess the impact of COVID-19 across the governance sectors in Ghana.

Information Minister Kojo Oppong Nkrumah yesterday said government will examine data on the impact of COVID-19 across the governance sectors. All ministers, we are told, are to report on the impact across their sectors and proffer recommendations for recovery at the Cabinet retreat.

The three-day retreat will also offer an opportunity to put together information for the 2020 mid-year budget review – which is even more important now in view of the obvious missed projections government had before the advent of COVID-19.

Cabinet needs to have a full picture of what is actually on the ground, sector by sector, in order to plan appropriately for the remainder of the year – which is quickly drawing to the half-year mark. Additionally, this is an election year: Ghanaians are expected to go to the polls in December to exercise their franchise, and government would like to assess its strengths and weaknesses and build on where it’s lacking to win the hearts and minds of the electorate.

Sadly, the outbreak of COVID-19 came at a very unfortunate time in our political calendar – but life must proceed and government must do its bit to fulfil its mandate if it wants it to be renewed by Ghanaians. The retreat should see some spirited engagements that will see a reinvigorated national rescue plan to salvage the economy from negative growth.

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