CORONANOMICS: AGI welcomes GH¢1bn stimulus package but wants clarity

Although the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has welcomed the president’s GH¢1billion Coronavirus lifeline for businesses, it says it wants more clarification on the modalities, including how soon it will come onboard.

President Nana Akufo-Addo, in an address to the nation last week, announced the stimulus package for businesses as part of measures to mitigate impacts of the coronavirus on the private sector and economy as a whole.

The finance minister last Monday explained that the GH¢1billion COVID-19 Alleviation Programme (CAP) will be taken from the Stabilisation Fund and will go to targetted businesses in the health sector, education sector, hospitality industry, SMEs and households hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the AGI is demanding more details with regard to who qualifies for the package, how to access it, and how soon the fund will be made available to businesses, among others.

“Government coming up with a GH¢1billion stimulus package is just appropriate, and we support it fully,” AGI’s Chief Executive Officer, Seth Twum Akwaboah, told the B&FT – adding that at the end of the day, the success of such a move will depend on how it is managed.

“It depends on the modalities that are going to be developed around it; who gets it and who gets what? What will be the conditions for accessing it; how soon will it come and what will be the processes one will have to go through? These are some of the things we need to discuss with government through the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Trade and Industry to get more clarity, but the idea is brilliant.”

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He said such an intervention is timely because it will help the private sector, particularly SMEs, to stay afloat by offering an escape route for businesses which would have otherwise collapsed during these times of less economic activity due to the outbreak of novel coronavirus in the country.

So far, government has imposed a lockdown on the country’s two biggest cities and economic hubs – Accra and Kumasi – which it considers as epicentres of the coronavirus.

“Admittedly, the Restrictions Act comes with economic implications, disruptions to business and global supply chains. Nonetheless, AGI believes government’s decision to protect lives through the lockdown is paramount at this time,” Mr. Akwaboah said in a statement in Accra.

Meanwhile, AGI, he noted, is working with the Ministry of Trade and Industry to authenticate and facilitate the validation of companies which produce essential goods or services.

“In view of this, sectors or products that were not listed in the recent directive but which companies believe are essential and critical for this challenging period should be brought to the attention of AGI for discussion with government.

“Until the situation normalises, we urge the business community to put in all necessary measures to protect themselves and their staff while adhering to the Covid-19 risk management protocols. The Association is available to offer its assistance to members who may need help within this period,” the statement added.

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