Editorial: Stimulus package extension will offer more businesses opportunity to access loans

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The manager of government’s stimulus package, the National Board for Small Scale Industries, has extended the deadline for applications from June 20 to June 26, 2020 – which effectively means it has been extended by six days.

The decision is to give trade and business associations more time for members with specific challenges and who are yet to submit applications to do so. Lest we forget, one of the requirements is for MSMEs to possess a tax identification number, which several companies had been seeking to do when applications were declared open.

Executive Director of NBSSI, Mrs. Kosi Yankey-Aryeh, believes the extension will also provide eligible businesses a chance to acquire the Tax Identification Number in order to complete their applications, and offer companies in rural areas with no Internet an opportunity to process into the digitised system.

She said to ensure that the six-day extension is well-utilised, the NBSSI had intensified collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority to facilitate TIN acquisition for applicants. Only around 170,000 businesses had applied for the GH¢1billion stimulus package as at the start of last week, according to the National Board for Small Scale Industries.

Government is putting up GH¢600million to fund the initiative, and the selected financial intermediation firms collaborating in its execution are expected to put up about GH¢400million – bringing the total funding to GH¢1billion.

MSMEs, which account for 70 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and represent 92 percent of businesses, are among the hardest hit – hence the need for the stimulus package.

We believe the extension will enable eligible businesses to fine-tune their application requirements, particularly those without Internet access in outlying locations. The NBSSI expects the loans will be given to some 230,000 beneficiaries.

The grace period offered will ensure that those who do not yet have one are allowed to apply and secure a TIN, and then use it to support their application. The two-week partial lockdown at the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak really affected businesses – particularly micro, small and medium scale enterprises – and the opportunity should be given to as many applicants as possible; therefore, the extension is in the right direction.

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