President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo says his government has what it takes to resuscitate Ghana’s economy in the event that the current deadly coronavirus outbreak causes it to flounder in the coming months.
Economies across the globe are expected to stall in the coming weeks measures taken by governments to stem the tide of coronavirus spread have affected companies and business some of which have shut down operations.
Already, fears of the coronavirus’ impact on world economies have shaken financial markets, triggering stock prices and bond yields to plunge.
In Ghana, the outbreak has begun impacting on businesses forcing some operators to announce business shutdown or lay-offs, and the latest decision by the government to lock-down parts of the country from Monday is expected to worsen the situation.
The Bank of Ghana is predicting a worst-case GDP growth rate scenario of 2.5% for 2020 should the virus continues to linger for the rest of the year.
Delivering the fourth address to the nation on the coronavirus which has affected 137 people and killed 4 of them in the country, President Nana Akufo-Addo said the effects the covid-19 situation on Ghana’s economy would be dire should it prolong.
But having spent the last three years to fix the country’s economy, which the President said was growing abysmally at the time that he took office, Nana Akufo-Addo said his government has proven it can restore the economy should it go into recession.
“As we have demonstrated over the course of the last three years, where we inherited an economy that was growing at 3.4% and transformed it into one which has grown by an average of 7% over the last three (3) years, I assure you that we know what to do to bring back our economy back to life,” he stated.
Already, government has announced a string of economic measures to stimulate business and people in the midst of the crisis which has triggered global health crisis.
The airline and hospitality industries in Ghana are to receive a six month moratorium on principal loan repayments as part of the measures.
Also the Bank of Ghana has announced a 1.5% decrease in the policy rate and 2% in reserve requirement with a ¢3 billion facility to support industry especially in the pharmaceutical, hospitality, service and manufacturing sectors.
Tax filing date for businesses has also been extended from April to June.
“We are providing additional relief, such as…a two percent (2%) reduction of interest rates by banks, effective 1st April, 2020,” Nana Akufo-Addo stated.
The Finance Minister has also been directed to prepare for approval by Parliament, a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme to address the disruption in economic activities, the hardship to people, and to rescue and revitalize our industries.
“He will, then, immediately make available a minimum of one billion cedis (GH¢1 billion) to households and businesses, particularly small and medium scale enterprises,” Nana Akufo-Addo stated.
‘We can’t bring people back to life’
However, the President said what his government cannot do, is to resuscitate dead people hence urged all Ghanaians to abide by the measures put in place by health authorities and government to stop the spread of the disease.
“What we do not know how to do is to bring people back to life. We will, therefore, protect people’s lives, then their livelihoods,” he assured.
“For the next two weeks, I urge all of you, especially residents in the affected areas of Greater Accra and Greater Kumasi, to be reminded, every day, that the frontline of the fight against Coronavirus is your front door. If you cross it, you and your family will likely be infected.
Accordingly, he has asked that people stay at home because “It is vitally important that each one of us, in all parts of the country, continues to observe the social distancing and enhanced hygiene protocols, for they are the weapons of our defence against the virus”.