COVID-19: GUTA calls for GH¢560m fund to support informal sector

… wants 3-months interest waiver on loans

The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) is asking government to set up a GH¢560million stimulus fund to support the informal sector revive their businesses due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their operations.

In a petition to the Trade and Industry Ministry, cited by the B&FT, members of the association say they are in a dire financial crisis due to the closure of businesses worldwide, especially in China.

Some members of the association told this paper that their capital hse been locked up in China due to the pandemic; and even with news of the revival of industrial operations, delivery times have been shifted from the usual one month to two or more months.

The president of the Association, Dr. Joseph Obeng, told the B&FT: “We are in very difficult times. Our members are just coming out of the financial sector clean-up wherein they lost huge sums. Not all of them have recovered, and we are now dealing with this pandemic that has locked our funds in China.

“At least, a US$100million (GH¢560million) fund must be set up for us. We will have to manage it very well and ensure it serves as a seed fund; and in future, who knows, it can metamorphose into the trade bank we have been calling for.”

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The GUTA president added that government over the years has not financially supported the informal sector as it has done for some budding entrepreneurs. “We always hear that some monies have been given to startups and some monies have been allocated to entrepreneurs. It is good, but we should also know that the informal sector and importers need help. We already have the business experience and we employ at least two people, but we get little attention from government.”

Waive interest on loans

GUTA is also asking government to entreat commercial banks to waive three-months interest off loans that were sourced by its members for exporting purposes. The association noted that the pandemic has adversely affected operations – leading to members not profiting from loans it sourced.

For them, it would not only be overburdening but insensitive on the part of commercial banks to expect them to pay up-to-date interest on these loans.

“We work with these banks and they are aware of the global situation. We go for the loans and we always pay on time. That is why they continue to give us the money. At this point, they should be considerate and know that the monies we took from them are still ideal funds; and in some cases, importers don’t even know if they will get their monies back from some Chinese companies because they made orders before the lockdown in China and are yet to hear from the companies.”

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