Editorial : Supplementary budget should ameliorate extensive disruption due to COVID-19

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Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister

There is little doubt the COVID-19 pandemic has caused extensive disruption to Ghana’s economy, severely affecting businesses, jobs and livelihoods.

Giving a hint of what is to be expected in government’s mid-year budget review, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta says government is working to roll out unemployment benefits. He stated that this assistance is needed to support those workers which have been impacted by coronavirus.

Though it sounds plausible and is in the right direction considering the disruption caused by the pandemic, a major concern is how it will be financed.

We are told that the fine details will be announced in tomorrow’s Mid-Year Budget Review.

Although government earlier rolled out a GH¢1billion stimulus package for small businesses, the Finance Minister indicated that government will roll out another stimulus package for businesses.

The next stimulus package will target large firms in the country, Ofori-Atta stated. This should lend some comfort to large businesses which have suffered unduly because of the pandemic outbreak.

We know the hospitality, aviation and tourism sectors have taken a toll since border closures and restrictions have impacted negatively on those sectors, and we expect players in those industries to be fixed to their television sets tomorrow – eager to hear what is in store for them.

The hospitality sector in particular has suffered massive losses, and will be in the throes of a collapse if a rescue package is not advanced sometime soon.

Mr. Ofori-Atta added that he will use the Mid-Year Review to seek parliament’s approval for a supplementary budget. The move has become necessary as a result of some funds received which need parliament’s approval to spend.

While all this is in the works, we believe Ghanaians will also be eager to learn how funds generated for the fight against COVID-19 have been utilised. This is necessary to aggregate the colossal sums of money secured for the fight against the pandemic – especially as government continues to borrow under the guise of using it for COVID-19. We expect the Finance Minister to come clean and itemise how the funds have been spent so far.

This will include the US$1billion International Monetary Fund loan, US$219million from the Stabilisation Fund; and the World Bank loan as well as funds accrued from the National COVID-19 Trust Fund.

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