The Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) and the Trades Union Congress (TUC) have expressed worry over the high number of job losses in the country due the outbreak of COPVID-19.
The GNCCI is asking businesses to resort to furlough – a temporary leave of absence granted to employees – rather than letting workers go home permanently. It follows the 14-day lockdown in some cities including Accra, Tema and Kumasi recently, all in a bid to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.
These concerns are being raised because the GNCC aided the TUC to conduct a survey and the findings pointed to the fact that thousands of people in almost all sectors of the economy, especially SMEs, are having a bad time.
That is why the GH¢600 million stimulus package advanced to SMEs this week will be a life-line for the struggling businesses. They will be able to pay staff and any outstanding obligations occasioned by the pandemic.
ILO Director-General Guy Ryder has observed that workers and businesses are facing catastrophe, in both developed and developing economies that is why the job losses do not come as much of a surprise. “Massive losses are expected across different income groups, but especially in upper-middle-income countries of 7%, translating to 100 million full-time workers”, Ryder noted.
Mark Badu-Aboagye, Chief Executive Officer of the GNCCI, told this Paper that for SMEs – micro and small enterprises – what we realise is that they are completely laying off people because they have totally shut down. Most of them are going home,
This obviously is a worrying trend since SMEs in Ghana, according to the Registrar-General, form about 90 % of registered companies, accounting for about 80% of the private sector and 92% of businesses in Ghana.
Therefore, one can glean from the above how serious layoffs will mean for many households in the country, something government would not be too comfortable with, hence their intervention with a stimulus to help many get back on their feet.
The position of the GNCC in this respect appears to be the most tenable because if workers are asked to go on temporary leave, once the entities receive their stimulus package, they can then recall the employees to post so that they can be productive.
The restrictions are gradually being eased and is the right time for businesses that experienced some difficulties to revamp their operations. Like the President stated, it seems the virus will be with us for some time, therefore we need to adapt somehow.