The decision to involve Rural and Community Banks in the distribution of funds from the COVID-19 stimulus package to businesses is both proper and timely. Together with the EXIM Bank and other commercial banks, the RCBs will ensure the stimulus package reaches all potential SMEs earmarked to receive the stimulus package to make up for the time and money lost during the three-week lockdown at the inception of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
The criteria and modalities for identifying the beneficiaries are being developed by the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) in conjunction with the rural and community banks, commercial banks and the Ghana Exim Bank.
It is recalled that the COVID-19 stimulus package is a GH¢600 million soft loan scheme to be disbursed to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this Paper has gathered that without Tax Identification Numbers (TINs), and or, association with trade groups, businesses cannot qualify for any form of package.
The criterion makes business sense because the entities must be properly constituted and should be in the good books of the Ghana Revenue Authority. That notwithstanding, we also believe the criterion should have been clearly spelt out from the onset so that no small, micro or medium scale enterprise will feel slighted, or discriminated against.
Since the NBSSI has the database of all businesses in that category in good standing, it should be a routine exercise to identify the beneficiaries and disburse the monies to them. The impression gleaned from the President’s address announcing the stimulus package was that all SMEs were to receive a piece of the pie since invariably, they suffered inactivity as a result of the lockdown.
To be fair to the President, he did indicate that the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) would be the vehicle through which the package would be disbursed and ensure its effective implementation.
The President of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Nana Appiagyei Dankawoso is a reputable Ghanaian with a passion for empowering the SME sector and there is little to question about his integrity.
We strongly believe he would not preside over anything that is not transparent and above board. He has assured all and sundry that by first week of May the modalities for qualification would be laid bare.