The increasing calls from a section of the public for government to initiate another lockdown in the country because of the surge in COVID-19 cases might be well-intentioned and designed to curb spread of the virus, but its economic consequences could prove dire.
Firstly, any such move will create a situation wherein panic-buying for foodstuffs, medical supplies and other necessities will occur – and the attendant price hikes to take advantage of the situation.
According to statistics provided by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), the first lockdown that the country experienced last year saw 72% of businesses experiencing a decline in production. Also, 90% of businesses saw a decline in sales.
The lockdown saw 1,531 job losses recorded between April and June 2020 from eight companies within the ceramics, timber, food and agro-processing industries in the manufacturing sub-sector.
As a result of the loss of economic activity owing to outbreak of the virus, in the third quarter of last year the country entered a recession – the first in 37 years, and all these go to demonstrate the fall-out from undergoing a lockdown.
This Paper believes government will do what is needed and appropriate to curb spread of the virus among the populace, and is considering the options to take amid the rising number of cases. Obviously, we believe government, upon sound scientific advice, will opt for a lockdown if it is inevitable.
However, it is also conscious of the economic implications and what they portend for the general economy. This administration is fixated on putting the country on the road to economic recovery, and any attempt to lockdown now could derail the modest gains chalked up so far.
While we believe the calls from medical professionals and concerned citizens are genuine and well-intentioned, we plead that we allow government the latitude and space to examine all the issues at stake before taking a position.
We are not in normal times, and we should not haste to rock the boat but rather remain calm and hope the powers that be will make decisions which protect us from harm.
Health advisors to the president are there to guide him in taking appropriate decisions regarding the virus, and we must allow them the professional space to advise him properly.