These are unchartered territories for businesses and individuals across the world. Not many saw this coming. Companies are downsizing and scaling back on their business operations. There is lot of anxiety in the air. Workers feel so unsure at the moment as to whether they would have a job in the next month or two. Morale within teams is likely take a hit (especially with rumours spreading regarding the health of the company). Tough decisions have to be made all over the place. Business owners and in some instances top management personnel may even have to take a pay cut in order to keep some of their employees (if not all of their employees) at work. In some instances, employees will take some of the heat.
Chief Finance Officers are currently running the spread sheets in their minds and wondering whether current employee wage levels are sustainable (considering the fact that all the assumptions upon which pay rises and benefits are calculated seems to be falling flat on their heads); and everywhere there are concerns about whether the company is going to be able to deliver on its contractual obligations. But it is not only employees who will be feeling the heat. Directors of all shades and form (be they executive or non-executive directors) will also have to take a haircut at some point in time (if the pandemic becomes long drawn). Aside the pecuniary losses, directors also need to figure out how they are going to carry out the business of the company going forward and sustain growth in the short medium and long-term as all assumptions come collapsing down. And the same can be said for shareholders.
They can no longer meet (irrespective of their numbers) in some small room and take all the decisions that they are entitled to take under the Companies’ Act, 2019 (Act 992). I will deal with some of the basic questions that confronts shareholders in times like these. Must they necessary meet up in a particular space in order to take decisions? What options do they have in terms of voting? What liabilities do they have to the Company, to the Directors and to the other stakeholders?
Employees are worried about what their rights are and what obligations the Company owes them. Whether their jobs are secured and what rights they may have. Employers are also concerned about the continuity of their businesses.
And in times like these as well, it is close to impossible to lose sight of individual and corporate tax obligations (since it is obvious that both individuals, corporate entities and the state is stretched in equal measure). I will let you into the various tax strategies and initiatives that government has rolled out and that you can take advantage of to reduce your future liability. The aim of this series is to ensure that you and your business stay safe and survive these difficult times.
Ghana is taking big steps to ensure your safety and the continuity of your business in spite of these difficult and unpredictable times. Government restrictions to ensure the health and safety of you as an individual, coupled with new and improved legislation in the form of the passage of the Corporate Restructuring and Insolvency Bill which introduces a rescue culture to help businesses manoeuvre these unpredictable times and gain post commencement financial backing to help restructure these otherwise distressed entities and put them back on track. In summary, things may not be as dreary as they look. There is a silver lining – just hold on a little bit more.
If you are a business leader reading this, I have a word for you. Stay strong. Keep calm. And continue to inspire all of those who have made a decision to dedicate a part of their lives to keep your vision and mission alive. It is not going to be easy. But this is what leaders are made for. The hard times. The challenging times. And the sometimes seemingly hopeless times. In the midst of all the difficulties, if there is anything that we have learnt, it is that the world is learning to walk hand in hand (even though ironically, we are more distant like we’ve never been before). As some have said, “No matter how dark the sky seems, the sun always shines through.” Let’s meet next week.