Although the government has earmarked GHS600 million to be distributed among businesses mainly small and medium scale enterprise (SMEs), following the effect of the COVID-19, authorities must be more pragmatic with measures to protect these businesses in the long term, Dr James Asare-Adjei, former President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), has said.
He said the provision of the package is commendable but realistic measures will ensure that these businesses survive in the worst case scenario of the COVID-19 in Ghana.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, announced during his 7th COVID-19 national address to Ghanaians on Sunday, 19th April 2020, that Government will start disbursing the GH¢600 million stimulus package to SMEs in May this year as part of efforts to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 on businesses.
He explained that the GHS600m forms part of the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme.
“I know the effects of the measures to contain the virus have been difficult for many, and that is why I mandated the creation of the GH¢1.2 billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme to support households and businesses.
“Out of this amount, six hundred million cedis (GH¢600 million) of assistance is being provided to micro, small and medium-scale businesses. I expect disbursements of the six hundred million cedis to start in May,” he stated.
Speaking on the Key Point programme hosted by Abena Tabi on TV3 Saturday May 2, Dr Asare-Adjei commended the government for this move, but said: “let me say that we need a lot more pragmatic efforts, we need a lot more efforts that will really be able to support businesses that at this point in time are really under the effect of the COVID-19.
“Particularly, about manufacturing. You will agree with me that the impact of the pandemic on businesses vary because at least some businesses can really work from home using technology.
“But when we talk about manufacturing you need to be physically present to turn the machines on to produce to ensure that you carry out all the activities along the supply chain , either you are selling locally or exporting.
“So this means there is a need to identify some of these businesses that have been seriously hit and then provide the needed support to ensure that these businesses don’t go under.”
He further asked the government to ensure transparency in the disbursement of the GHS600million stimulus package.
“Don’t distribute the money in pieces, Identify areas where the rippling effects will be huge and you will see the turnaround in the economy,” he said.
“The government must be transparent in disbursement of GHS600m. It must go to where they actually need.”