President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has stated that, contrary to assertions by detractors that he and his government are just throwing freebies at the citizenry, they are rather providing critical support to ordinary Ghanaians whose lives and livelihoods have been adversely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the President, it is his conviction that “in times of crises, it is the duty of a responsible and sensitive Government to protect the population and provide relief.”
Addressing the country in his 15th update on Ghana’s enhanced response to the coronavirus pandemic, the President said: “We are not providing freebies, we are providing critical help to households, families and businesses, in the midst of this pandemic, because we care.”
The flagbearer of the opposition NDC, John Mahama, has asked President Akufo-Addo to stop “throwing freebies at the citizenry”, even in this period of the pandemic.
During an interaction with members of the Association of Road Contractors, Mr Mahama said: “This government is prioritising consumption”, adding “no government develops prioritising consumption”.
“If you say everybody should stay at home and we will give you everything free, free; free this, free that. All the countries that have developed, they didn’t develop like that,” Mr Mahama said.
However, according to the President, the free things provided are to mitigate the adverse effects on the people from the pandemic.
“I know that the pandemic has adversely affected many lives and livelihoods. It is for this reason that Government has implemented several measures such as free water and electricity, and funding to support small businesses, and tax reliefs, amongst others, to cushion the effect of the pandemic,” he noted.
Meanwhile, the President has further instructed the Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection to begin preparations to ensure that, as from August 24 to September 18, all 584,000 final year JHS students, and 146,000 staff, both in public and private schools, are given one hot meal a day. This, according to the President, is to ensure full observance of the COVID-19 safety protocols.
Borders remain closed
In a related development, the President has stated that Ghana’s borders, by air, land and sea, remain closed to human traffic.
He, however, indicated that the Ministry of Aviation, the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority and the Ghana Airports Company Limited have been working with the Ministry of Health and its agencies to “ascertain our readiness to reopen our airport.” He said the decision to be taken will be ready by September 1.
“For Ghana residents stranded abroad, special dispensation will continue to be given for their evacuation back to Ghana, where they will be subjected to the mandatory quarantine and safety protocols. Beaches, pubs, cinemas and nightclubs are still to remain closed until further notice,” he noted.
As of Saturday, August 15, the number of active cases had reduced to 1,847.
Currently, there are no recorded COVID-19 cases in the North East, Savannah, Upper East and Upper West regions. Thus far, a total of 40,567 persons have recovered from the virus, improving the recovery rate from 89.5 per cent to 95.1 per cent in three weeks.
With a total of 427,121 samples tested the country’s death rate currently stands at 0.5 per cent while tests results that used to take weeks are now available within 48 hours.