President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has given an assurance that besides the GH¢600 million stimulus package earmarked for small and medium enterprises, the government is working to secure bigger funds to support other industries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said aside from GH¢3 billion from the commercial banks and the recovery funds secured from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the government was also negotiating with the World Bank for funds, while at the same time planning to pump larger sums into the economy to support and empower the production sectors.
President Akufo-Addo gave the assurance last Tuesday when he met players in the tourism industry in the country to discuss the impact of the pandemic on their industry and how to get out of the crisis.
The President and his team went into a closed-door meeting with the industry players after the opening remarks.
The groups included the Ghana Tourism Federation, the Tour Operators Union of Ghana, the Ghana Hotels Association, the Car Rentals Association of Ghana, the Chefs Association of Ghana and the Tour Guides Association of Ghana.
The meeting was at the instance of the Minister of Tourism and Creative Arts, Mrs Barbara Oteng-Gyasi.
Responding to suggestions from the industry players that they believed they should be given priority in the disbursement of the GH¢600 million stimulus package, President Akufo-Addo assured them that apart from that amount, two other sources of funds were being specifically directed at businesses.
He explained that the commercial banks had agreed with the Minister of Finance and the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to raise GH¢3 billion as loans for industries, including those in the hospitality sector.
He added that the BoG, with the support of the Minister of Finance, had worked to reduce interest rates and place a moratorium on the payment of principal and interest on loans.
He noted that another package was also being negotiated between the Ministry of Finance and the BoG for a much larger sum to be pumped into the economy to support and empower various sectors.
President Akufo-Addo said even though the pandemic had shaken the 2020 budget, the government was determined to rise to the occasion.
He said, for instance, that the budget had been predicated on $65 per barrel of oil, but today oil price was $20.
“Clearly, these statistics are signs of the big hole that has been punched in government revenue as a result of the pandemic,” he said.
He said these were not complaints but facts that all should bear in mind as the country was trying to find its way out of the pandemic.
He, however, assured the industry players that “the commitment of the government to stand beside you and work with you to find the way forward is unconditional”.
Year of Return
President Akufo-Addo referred to the huge success of the Year of Return that had put Ghanaian tourism on the global map in a very positive manner and said visitors left for their countries with a very good memory of Ghana.
He commended the hospitality industry for the role it played during the mandatory quarantine of people who came from abroad.
The President of the Ghana Hotels Association, Dr Edward Ackah-Nyamike Jnr, said one of the main challenges facing its members as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic was how to meet their recurrent expenditure, particularly the payment of the salaries of their staff.