About 200,000 businesses have been projected by the National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI) to benefit from the disbursement of the GH¢600 million soft loan scheme announced by the President for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) in view of the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on them.
The Executive Director of the NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey Ayeh, who made this known, said with people losing their jobs through reduction of staff strength by businesses as a result of the negative impact of the COVID-19, the board was also working hard to support businesses, including those which had come out with innovations.
“Figures from the Statistical Service reveal that micro enterprises constitute about 80 per cent of the MSME sector; small businesses constitute 15 per cent, and medium enterprises one per cent. So the COVID-19 Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme is expected to reach over 200,000 MSMEs in total.
“We have done it in such a way that it is representative of the entire sector,” she said at the regular Ministry of Information press briefing on Ghana’s COVID-19 situation held yesterday.
Addressing the nation on the progress that had been made in the fight against the pandemic on Sunday, April 5, 2020, President Nana Addo-Dankwa Akufo-Addo said the “government, in collaboration with the NBSSI, business and trade associations and selected commercial and rural banks, will roll out a soft loan scheme up to a total of GH¢600 million, which will have a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period for micro, small and medium businesses”.
According to Mrs Ayeh, the COVID-19 had negatively impacted nations, including Ghana, and that some of the hardest hit Ghanaian businesses were in the category of MSMEs in both the formal and the informal sectors.
Those, she said, made up about 70 per cent of the Ghanaian economy, saying that “in view of this, the President, in his wisdom, committed GH¢600 million as a stimulus package as an emergency relief to these categories of businesses”.
“Over the past few weeks, we have had deep and extensive engagements with multiple stakeholders, such as financial institutions, associations, trade groups, service providers, consultants, etc. to ensure that we all align ourselves to the products that the business scheme will roll out to achieve a common goal.
“We have been supported by our board and the Ministry of Finance and its team to ensure that we work assiduously to implement the project to all qualifying entities,” she said.
To ensure the successful, efficient and transparent execution of the programme, Mrs Ayeh said, an online portal had been developed to be used which was awaiting approval from the board of directors.
She explained that the portal would be stress-tested by independent consultants to ensure that all implementation challenges were minimised.
She said the board would also create the opportunity for those who were not technology savvy or had limited access to the Internet in remote districts to have access to partake in the business support scheme.
“We believe that we are in a position to operationalise the service soon. We will also communicate with the public to get them ready and prepared,” she added.
The Minister of Information, Mr Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, indicated at the press briefing that as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the entire economy, the Cabinet was going for a retreat to assess the actual impact and map out pragmatic interventions.
He said the three-day retreat would discuss the actual impact of the pandemic on the economy beyond the projected impact by prioritising a review of the data gathered on the effects of the COVID-19 on all sectors of the economy and how to boost the economy, explaining that actual data had been collected.
He further intimated that the government currently had more concrete data on the impact of the COVID-19 on various sectors, including education and health, to inform the review meeting to discuss the impact in a broader perspective.
“President Akufo-Addo and his Cabinet, over the next three days, will commence a process of examining data so far gathered on the impact of the COVID-19 across all sectors in Ghana,” he said at the press conference.
He said the government would continue to examine the observed impact, the recommendations that were being made and the implications and commence preparations for laying same before Parliament.
Mr Oppong Nkrumah said all ministers had also been directed to present reports about the impact of the COVID-19 on their respective sectors and make recommendations on how the sectors could recover for consideration at the retreat.
He said information from the retreat would facilitate the 2020 mid-year budget review.
“The President has instructed all ministers to present reports on their sectors and proffer recommendations for recovery at the Cabinet retreat, which started yesterday and ends on Saturday.
“The Government of Ghana will examine the observed impact, the recommendations that are being made and the implications and will enhance preparations for laying same before Parliament during the mid-year review,” he said.
He recalled that from the onset of the pandemic, the Minister of Finance, Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, had briefed the nation, through Parliament, on the projected economic impact of the pandemic and measures that the government was projecting to take to mitigate the impact.
“Since then, under the leadership of the President, the government of Ghana has rolled out a number of measures to respond, first, to the health crisis specifically, and, second, the socio-economic challenges that come with managing it.
“These measures, as you would recall, include free water for three months, free electricity for three months for lifeline consumers and 50 per cent discount for non-lifeline consumers, among many others,” the minister said.