Stimulus package saves 650,000 jobs; GH¢502.5m disbursed so far

BY: Maclean Kwofi
Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

More than 650,000 jobs in the micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) space have been protected by the special fund setup by the government to cushion small businesses from the effect of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The jobs were protected through the disbursement of some GH¢502.5 million to about 289,047 small businesses that applied to benefit from the GH¢750 million Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP-BuSS).

The beneficiaries have since invested their share of the fund in their respective businesses to help them get back on their feet as COVID-19 rages.

The Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Mr Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, who announced this during the presentation of the 2021 Budget and Economic Statement to Parliament on February 12 in Accra, said 69 per cent of the beneficiaries were female-owned businesses.

“In order to provide relief to mitigate the effects of the pandemic on MSMEs, the government launched the CAP-BuSS, and earmarked GH¢600 million for MSMEs.

“The NBSSI disbursed GH¢502.5 million to 289,047 beneficiaries.

“Mr Speaker, the launch and operationalisation of the GH¢750 million CAP-BuSS has mitigated the impact of the pandemic on several micro, small and medium-sized enterprises,” he said.

According to him, the government, through the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) collaborated with over 80 business associations, and key participating financial institutions (PFI’s) to facilitate timely disbursement of the funds.

“As at end December 2020, about GH¢412.88 million had been disbursed to support 277,511 businesses of which 69 per cent were female-owned. The scheme has saved over 650,000 MSME jobs,” he said.

Formalising informal sector

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu observed that as an off-shoot, the CAP-BuSS has created pathways to formalise the large informal sector given that over 800,000 Tax Identification Numbers (TINs) were generated, and over 10,000 businesses registrations activated.

He said CAP-BuS also enhanced financial inclusion as close to 60 per cent of beneficiaries secured bank accounts for participating in the scheme.

“Mr Speaker, in the financial sector, the policy and regulatory measures rolled out by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) including the provision of GH¢7 billion worth of support to borrowers (between March and June 2020) enhanced liquidity in the banking sector, preserved capital buffers, and offered relief to customers.

“These measures also enabled banks and specialised deposit-taking institutions to provide support to critical sectors of the economy to mitigate the adverse impact of the pandemic,” he added.

MSME development

To develop the MSME space, the Minister noted that about 37 Business Resource Centres (BRCs) at the district level were established in 2020 and were currently in operation with full deployment of staffing, equipment, and other facilities.

He said the operation of the BRCs covered about 146 districts. Construction commenced on 30 additional BRCs which will bring the total number of BRCs to 67.

He explained that the BRCs were designed to provide Business Development Services (BDS) to support MSMEs in urban and peri-urban communities including the one district, one factory (1D1F) companies.

“The BRCs are also providing agency and representation services such as Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and Registrar General's Department (RGD).

“In addition to the BRCs, five new Technology Solution Centres (TSCs) were established and 26 existing Technology Centres were upgraded and re-equipped to provide technology solutions and maintenance support to industries located at the district level throughout the country,” Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu added.