About 9,000 employees of hotels and guests houses which operate under the umbrella of the Ghana Progressive Hoteliers Association (GPHA) have been laid off because of the lack of patronage of the facilities.
The development is as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced many of the facilities to shut down completely or operate at minimal capacity.
The National President of the association, Mr Charles Adu-Gyamfi, who made this known, explained that the GPHA, which has a membership of 400, employed about 12,000 workers before the advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic last Wednesday when the association donated food and items such as Veronica buckets, sanitary items and towels to the Hanukkah Children’s Home at Baakoniaba, near Sunyani, he said: “As I speak now, about 9,000 of such employees have been laid off, since we are operating way below our capacities.”
Citing a personal example, he said: “Even though I operate a hotel with 80 rooms, I am currently not getting more than two guests per night.”
“How can I continue to engage all my employees and pay them from my pocket?” he asked rhetorically.
The items donated to the Hanukkah Children’s Home and three others were estimated at GH¢10,000.
The donation formed part of activities marking the 10th anniversary of the association.
Mr Adu-Gyamfi said members of the association were grateful to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo for putting in place stimulus packages such as free water for three months and a reduction in electricity tariffs over the same period for Ghanaians.
He, however, indicated that members of the GPHA were eagerly waiting for their share of the GH¢600 million stimulus package in the form of flexible loans to cushion them in the face of the current difficulties to enable them to continue to be in business.
He called on the government to consider instituting another fund as a Plan “B” to offer further loans to SMEs in case the COVID-19 pandemic extended beyond “a certain threshold”.
“There may even be the need to extend the 50 per cent electricity and free water relief and we hope the government will start thinking about such a measure,” he said.
The GPHA President appealed to the government to impress on its agencies that collected taxes, levies and fees from members of the association not to use the COVID-19 stimulus package to SMEs as a basis to compel them to honour such obligations.
He called on the government to ensure that Ghana returned to “normal times before we are made to pay such taxes, levies and fees”.
He said the COVID-19 pandemic had affected the hotel business, to the extent that many could not continue to operate without getting the required customers to break even.
He said it was in the light of the difficulties that the association pleaded with agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS), the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) and the metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to suspend the collection of taxes, levies and fees for a while in order to give them breathing space to continue to operate.
Corporate social responsibilities
At the presentation ceremony itself, Mr Adu-Gyamfi said even though members of the association were currently going through difficulties, it was incumbent on them not to abandon their corporate social responsibilities.
He, therefore, called on other organisations to continue to support the needy in society to enable them to cope with the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Director of the home, Mrs Marriet Asagbo, said it was catering for 45 inmates, as well as 17 workers and their families who were not allowed to move out of the compound as a measure to keep them safe from the COVID-19.
She thanked the association for its gesture and called on others to go to the aid of the home to enable it to cope with the difficult times.