Finance Minister Ken Ofori Atta has stated that launching the GH¢600million Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) Business Support Scheme is the cue to begin an aggressive normalisation of the economy.
According him, the finance ministry is drafting an economic turnaround programme that the president will soon launch. The programme, he noted, will be modelled along the lines of Europe’s Marshall Plan and Asia’s economic development to bring Ghana back to a path of sound economic growth post COVID-19.
He noted that the country will not waste the crises, and thus will position itself to move forward. “In an effort to combat the pandemic and quickly return to our pre-COVID-19 growth and fiscal path, we are injecting GH¢600million through the CAP Business Support Scheme by providing soft loans to Micro, Small and Medium Businesses (MSMB) and sole proprietors who have been invariable impacted by the pandemic,” Mr. Ofori Atta said at the Presidential launch of CAP at Jubilee House.
Noting that the economy thrives on the informal sector, the Finance Minister said from available data, 83.6 percent of businesses in the informal sector do not have enough savings to immune themselves from shocks which come with events like the outbreak of a global pandemic; and therefore government has to put in the scheme to ensure sustainability of businesses and jobs.
A further breakdown of the data from the minister revealed that about 1 million Ghanaians earn a living in the informal sector, and therefore a huge number of people are at risk of economic distress. “About 7 million of our people earn below GH¢7,000 a year, and so we need to look at that,” the minister added.
He advised beneficiaries of the scheme that they should properly invest the money so it bears more fruit to feed many people, saying: “GH¢600million will go a long way to build the Ghanaian Enterprise”.
He revealed that in addition to the programme, a taskforce has been set up to further work on a Recovery, Stabilisation and Revitalisation Programme that will concentrate on industries and manufacturing with a specific focus on businesses to spur growth, minimise job losses, and to ensure post COVID-19 recovery will be at a faster pace. And furthermore, the process of forming the Ghana Development Bank will be expedited to ensure it gives more attention to agriculture modernisation and rapid industrialisation of businesses post COVID-19.
Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), Kosi Antwiwaa Yankey, has announced a categorisation of businesses which qualify for the scheme. The NBSSI is targetting existing enterprises nationwide with verifiable evidence of business activities gravely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Also, potential and existing businesses with bankable plans or are producing items to support the fight against COVID-19.
She said the programme will be rolled out nationwide, targetting businesses that are part of an association, trade group or NBSSI. Financial support that will be allocated to each region will vary, and depend on factors such as population size and level of economic activity across each region.
President Akufo Addo is hopeful that the initiative will be a game changer for Ghana’s economy. “It is anticipated that the entire Scheme will attract some 180,000 beneficiaries across the country. I urge all beneficiaries to use the funds received for the intended purpose, so that together we can work to grow our economy once again,” the president said.