Gov’t assures of effective post-Covid recovery measures

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President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo

Government has reiterated the point that “the year 2020 was a difficult period for Ghana and the rest of the world”, adding that “never before in recent history has a pandemic triggered such dramatic changes to lives and livelihoods simultaneously”.

 

It has however given the assurance that prudent post-Covid measures have been put in place to ensure a brighter future for the country.

 

Delivering the 2021 Budget Statement and Economic Policy on Friday, the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Leader of Government Business, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, gave the assurance that Government would “implement the GhanaCARES programme to revitalize the economy and create employment.

 

He added that it would continue the implementation of its flagship programmes, including the Planting for Food and Jobs, the Free Senior High School and the One District, One Factory agenda.

 

Bright future

 

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu further assured that the government would continue its priority programmes as well as implement additional initiatives to drive recovery.

 

He said the government would scale-up the vaccination of Ghanaians to enable the nation attain herd immunity by the end of 2021; continue implementation of Agenda 111 to provide hospitals and related infrastructure nationwide to improve the delivery of healthcare; intensify efforts to improve public sanitation; give support to those who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 to find other gainful employment opportunities; deploy resources for the security agencies to maintain peace and security; and complete many of the ongoing infrastructure projects within the country’s resource envelope.

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Challenges

 

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu stated that the global crisis disrupted supply chains and exerted undue pressure on economic and financial systems, killing businesses and jobs in the country.

 

The global economy, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is estimated to have contracted by 3.5 per cent while global trade also contracted by 9.6 per cent. This, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said, also had dire effect on Ghana’s economy.

 

“Mr. Speaker, for the first time in our 64 years of nationhood, a Government had to tackle an unforgiving simultaneous health and economic crisis. The outbreak and the ensuing partial lockdown to contain the spread of the virus and protect lives brought socio-economic activities to a virtual halt, with the resultant loss of jobs, incomes, collapse of businesses and loss of Government revenues,” he said.

 

He explained that the drastic slowdown in economic activity led to a huge drop in domestic revenues, combined with a sharp and unplanned hike in COVID-related expenditures. These led to a sudden shortfall in Government revenues, amounting to GH¢13.6billion and an unexpected and unavoidable rise in expenditures of GH¢11.7billion.

 

Protecting lives

 

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu explained that to fight the pandemic, the government, from the onset, laid out five key objectives to limit and stop the importation of the virus; contain its spread; provide adequate care for the sick; limit the impact of the virus on social and economic life; and inspire the expansion of our domestic capability and deepen our self-reliance.

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“The President made it an utmost priority to protect Ghanaian lives above all else. This is captured in his now world-famous quotation – ‘We know what to do to bring our economy back to life. What we do not know how to do is to bring people back to life’.

 

“Under his leadership, we took the required swift, drastic and decisive measures to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. We rapidly mobilised and deployed extensive internal and external resources to support Ghanaian households and enterprises,” he said.

 

He added that through Government’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP I & II) as well as the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP), the government

provided financial clearance to employ additional 24,285 health professionals between March and June; expanded the capacities of laboratories to increase COVID-19 testing and established isolation centres in all regions and districts; provided 3.6 million reusable face masks, 50,000 medical scrubs, 90,000 hospital gowns and head covers to health facilities as at June 2020; provided 50per cent of basic salary as allowances for frontline health workers; waived Income Tax for all healthcare workers; waived Income Tax on the 50per cent additional allowances paid to frontline health workers; absorbed the transport cost and cost of sustenance for contact tracers and field surveillance officers; fully covered water consumption for all Ghanaians from April to December, 2020 and fully covered the power consumption of the over one million lifeline customers, and subsidised the consumption of all other customers by 50 per cent.

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The government also rolled out the GH¢750 million CAP-BuSS Programme in May 2020 to directly support Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs); established a GH¢2 billion Guarantee Facility to support all large enterprises and for job retention; a GH¢100 million Fund for Labour and Faith-Based Organisations for retraining and skills development; an Unemployment Insurance Scheme to provide temporary income support to workers who are laid off due to the pandemic; transferred over GH¢50 million to 400,000 most-vulnerable individuals under the LEAP programme; provided cooked meals to 2,744,723 vulnerable persons and worked with Faith-Based Organisations to distribute dry food packages to 470,000 families; provided hot meals for 584,000 final year Junior High School students and 146,000 staff, of public and private schools from August 24 to September 18, 2020 as they wrote their final exams; supplied 5.2 million re-usable face masks, 64,700 ‘veronica buckets’, 8100 thermometers guns and in excess of 1.5 million pieces of 200-ml of hand-sanitisers as well as over 126,000 gallons of soap to enable schools re-open among other measures.

 

 

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