In a bid to return the economy to its pre-pandemic levels or even better, government has launched the ambitious GH¢100 billion Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) programme in Accra.
The three-and-half-year programme dubbed ‘Obaatan Pa’, to be rolled out in two phases, aims to raise 70 percent of the financing from the private sector and the remaining from government to assist businesses surmount whatever challenge the pandemic brought on their operations which resulted in a 3.2% contraction of the economy in the second quarter of this year.
In a speech delivered on his behalf by the Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo, President Nana Akufo-Addo, said the coronavirus pandemic has articulated the reminder for the country to move away from dependence on charity from the developed world, hence, his vision for a Ghana Beyond Aid which he said, the Ghana CARES programme will play an instrumental role in achieving it.
“This pandemic creates an opportunity for us to remodel and build the wealthy, inclusive, sustainable, empowered, and resilient Ghana which is the goal of Ghana Beyond Aid. A Ghana that is prosperous enough to stand on its own feet; a Ghana that is beyond the dependence of the charity of others to cater for the needs of its people. The COVID-19 pandemic has sharply reminded us of the wisdom of this course.
This three-and-a-half year, two-phased GH¢100 billion Ghana CARES Obaatan Pa programme is Ghana Beyond Aid in action. We must take advantage of the opportunity the pandemic has afforded us to do things differently,” he said.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta said the successful implementation of the Ghana CARES programme will create an economy which will ensure prosperity for all.
“We will build on the great successes we have had in agriculture, by scaling up technologies to reach millions of farmers. We will add value to what we produce, and provide creative as well as high-tech opportunities for massive youth engagement in agriculture and agribusiness. Our priority is for workers and businesses to use their skills and productive capacities innovatively in a commercial environment that offers extended regional market opportunities, thanks to the African Continental Free Trade Area.
‘’So we look forward to establishing a dynamic national enterprise culture of an open economy with flexibility of labour, capital and product markets. An economy characterised by efficiency, social justice, social mobility and prosperity for all; the preferred destination for business and commerce on our beautiful continent with a common African Continental Free Trade Area market. We must, therefore, fully implement this transformative programme, to restore and reposition Ghana and its people to the rightful place of the Black Star,” he said.
Modalities of the programme
The CARES programme will be carried out in two phases. The first is the stabilization phase which aims at supporting enterprises recover. These include paying outstanding obligations to contractors and suppliers; injecting liquidity into the system and ease the cash flow difficulties of businesses; developing another programme to support large business hard hit by the pandemic; and also sourcing from the pharmaceuticals and textile & garment sectors and expand procurement from local producers for its goods and services.
Other interventions in the programme are establishing a guarantee scheme of up to GH¢2 billion to enable business to borrow from banks at more affordable rates; increasing funding to the CAP-BuSS Programme being run by National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI); and providing seed-fund for a retraining programme to help workers who are laid off because of COVID-19 to develop new skills.
The second, which is the medium-term revitalisation phase, will also include initiatives such as supporting commercial farming by complementing the Planting for Food and Jobs and the Rearing for Food and Jobs programmes; providing targeted support to enable the private sector to accelerate progress in building Ghana’s light manufacturing, technology, and digital economy sectors.
This phase will also make Ghana a regional financial hub by establishing an International Financial Services Centre (IFSC), as well as a regional manufacturing and logistics hub for the West Africa region; review of flagship programmes such as the 1D1F, free SHS and water and sanitation; enhance the business environment of the private sector through digitization, skills training, improvements in business regulations and their implementation, energy sector reform and expanding access to finance.