The National Hospitality Association of Ghana (NHAG) has appealed to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to consider re-opening the restaurants for business as a matter of utmost urgency.
Considering the fact that the sector has borne the brunt of efforts by government to curtail spread of coronavirus in the country, it is critical business confidence in the sector is restored now rather than later when much more harm would have been done.
The Association in a press statement signed by Theodore Dzeble, Executive Secretary, is unhappy with recent developments in the sector – particularly the re-closure of restaurants by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi, barely hours after the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) had issued operational guidelines regulating the official reopening of those facilities.
While we support and even commend government for the bold and progressive steps it has taken to safeguard the health, well-being and security of every Ghanaian in the fight against coronavirus, these actions directly impact negatively on the hospitality industry – perhaps more than any other sector of our economy, and serious considerations, exemptions and financial support will be required urgently to revamp the industry.
We therefore call on government to freeze existing levies and taxes on the industry for the period. In addition, we are calling on government to subsidise utility tariffs by 65%, reduce import duty on food and drinks, and arrange with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to pay 50 percent of our staff’s salaries – the majority of whom have been rendered jobless as a result of the shutdown.
We are also calling on government to back its promise of facilitating a 6-month moratorium on bank loans with concrete action, and promote commercial rent suspension by landlords within the period of inactivity to lessen the burden on proprietors.
The NHAG believes that reopening restaurants subject to strict adherence to safety protocols announced by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) will help curb spread of the virus in our facilities, and begin the long process of restoring the sector to recovery. Our members are trained professionals, able to strictly adhere to the standard protocols of handwashing, sanitising, social distancing and masking to effectively combat spread of the disease within in our premises.
We are therefore calling on the president to urgently consider reopening the restaurants, even if partially, to protect and safeguard the jobs of thousands of Ghanaians, the statement ended.