COVID-19 pandemic cost Ghana GH¢13.6billion in revenues - Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu

BY: Kweku Zurek
COVID-19 pandemic cost Ghana GHS13.6billion in revenues
COVID-19 pandemic cost Ghana GHS13.6billion in revenues

The Majority Leader and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu has disclosed that Ghana lost GH¢13.6billion in revenues as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Presenting the 2021 budget statement and economic policy on the floor of Parliament on Friday (March 12, 2021), the Majority Leader said the pandemic was an "unprecedented crisis" which caused a shortfall in government domestic revenues.

“Mr Speaker, 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. In sum, this unprecedented crisis 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," Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said.

COVID-19 response

Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also listed some 26 measures that were implemented by the Akufo-Addo government under the government’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP I & II) and the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) to combat the impact of COVID-19 on the economy.

See the measures below;

i. provided financial clearance to employ additional 24,285 health professionals between March and June to help fight the pandemic;

ii. expanded the capacities of laboratories to increase COVID-19 testing and established isolation centres in all regions and districts;

iii. 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;

iv. provided 50% of basic salary as allowances for frontline health workers;

v. waived Income Tax for all healthcare workers;

vi. waived Income Tax on the 50% additional allowances paid to frontline health workers;

vii. absorbed the transport cost and cost of sustenance for contact tracers and field surveillance officers;

viii. fully covered water consumption for all Ghanaians from April to December, 2020;

ix. fully covered the power consumption of the over 1 million lifeline customers, and subsidised the consumption of all other customers by 50 percent;

x. rolled-out the GH¢750 million CAP-BuSS Programme in May 2020 to directly support Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs);

xi. established a GH¢2 billion Guarantee Facility to support all large enterprises and for job retention;

xii. a GH¢100 million Fund for Labour and Faith-Based Organisations for retraining and skills development;

xiii. an Unemployment Insurance Scheme to provide temporary income support to workers who are laid off due to the pandemic;

xiv. transferred over GH¢50 million to 400,000 most-vulnerable individuals under the LEAP programme;

xv. provided cooked meals to 2,744,723 vulnerable persons and worked with Faith-Based Organisations to distribute dry food packages to 470,000 families;

xvi. 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;

xvii. 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;

xviii. paid the WASSCE examination fees amounting to GH¢75.4 million for 314,000 SHS 3 students;

xix. reduced the communication service from 9 percent to 5 percent to support students and workers who have adopted on-line platforms to study and work;

xx. extended due dates for filling of taxes from 4 to 6 months after the end of the financial year;

xxi. permitted the deduction of contributions and donations towards the pandemic as allowable expenses for income tax purposes;

xxii. waived VAT, NHIL, and GETFund Levy on donations of stock of equipment and goods for fighting the pandemic;

xxiii. waived income taxes on Third-Tier pension withdrawal

xxiv. fumigated schools, hospitals, markets and lorry parks;

xxv. undertook a vigorous public sensitisation and engagement exercise to inform and educate Ghanaians on the pandemic; and

xxvi. paid all public sector salaries in full.