Trepidation in the country following first recorded case of coronavirus

Following news that Nigeria has recorded the first case of coronavirus, there has been uneasiness in the country owing to the proximity and regular contact between persons of both nations.

Some staff of the Ghana Airport Company, Civil Aviation Authority, Customs Excise and Preventive Service and the Immigration Service who work at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) are jittery over news of Nigeria announcing its first Coronavirus (COVID-19) case.

Consequently, staff are hesitant to engage any flight from Nigeria and for very good reasons since they do not believe the system in the country is robust enough to ward off any threat. The staff are clamouring for more changes at the airport, and more health personnel to enhance that assurance.

Reports were rife last week about porous checks at the airport with some students from China claiming they were loosely scrutinized, apart from a form they were asked to complete upon their arrival at KIA.

Government has also allocated GH¢2.5 million as a start-up fund to fight coronavirus, Health Minister, Kweku Agyeman Manu, told Parliament on Tuesday, February, 4, this year. However, there are no direct flights from Ghana to China where the disease emanates from, but many passengers transit though Dubai on Emirates and Ethiopian Airlines into Ghana.

That is where the fear emanates from since Ethiopian Airline, Africa biggest airline, has stated that it is not grounding planes to China but has reduced its frequency. The spread of the virus has been rapid and engulfed almost all the five continents of the globe.

Apart from Nigeria which claimed to have recorded its first case last week Friday, news has it also that Algeria is the other African country to have recorded cases. This would obviously send a chill down the spine of many Ghanaians since we are a well-travelled nation with our citizens found in the most remote parts of the globe.

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Ghana’s first quarter passenger throughput expectation will be greatly affected by the phenomenon. A Bloomberg report, says the outbreak of the coronavirus has prompted dozens of nations and airlines to restrict travel. African countries that have restricted flights to and from China include Morocco, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Egypt though the World Health Organization has said such limits on trade and travel aren’t needed to control the spread of the virus. 

Sleeping officials cannot be left off the hook

Professor Noel Tagoe, a finance expert, has put the blame of the recent banking crisis squarely at the doorsteps on some sleeping officials of the Central Bank-the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and stated: “There was the failure of supervision by the Bank of Ghana and the thing that worries me is that the Bank of Ghana has not taken responsibility”.

Prof Tagoe said considering all the factors involved, the central bank had to choose between various options which included closing them and setting up new ones or changing the systems in place and replacing them.

His position is not different from another financial analyst, Joe Jackson, who has publicly stated that officials of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) whose actions and inaction led to the banking crisis should not be let off the hook.

Jackson opines that BoG officers were negligent and slept on the job, a situation, he believes, resulted in the crisis, which, in turn, caused job losses. Already, government has already spent over GH¢13 billion paying depositors of the collapsed banks.

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This Paper believes their positions are tenable since the State has levelled criminal charges against some of the directors and owners of the banks that caused, or oversaw liquidation of the affected banks. All the BoG officials who supervised the rot should be questioned too.

A former Second Deputy Governor of the BoG, Dr Johnson Asiama has been charged but we believe there are others who also have to be called to account. Professor Noel Tagoe, a former Executive Vice President of CIMA, believes there was failure of supervision by the Bank of Ghana and since they have not owned up or even acknowledged their culpability, it leaves much to be desired.

After months of clean up by government in the banking sector, a receiver appointed by the central bank announced that it has started payments of funds to all customers whose banks were affected in the process.

The Consolidated Bank of Ghana (CBG) has so far paid 6,446 individual customers of the defunct microfinance, micro-credit and savings and loan companies after their claims were validated after government released GH¢5 billion in cash and bonds to settle the depositors.

This is a heavy cost to bear and just as those found culpable of events leading to the collapse of some seven local banks are being levelled with criminal charges, it is hard to fathom that the BoG has not accepted blame for its inaction that led to the event.

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