The Progressive People’s Party (PPP) has called on government to support indigenous businesses with stimulus packages following measures put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country.
In a statement signed by the National Chairman of the PPP, Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond, the party said the economic fallout from the pandemic could adversely affect local businesses hence its proposal.
“Beyond the health implications, our other greatest growing concern is the expected economic fallout this virus could have on a larger scale. Per our estimation, this economic shock could lead to a sharp increase in poverty, making it even harder for us to achieve the already extremely demanding UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030,” the party said in the statement.
The party, therefore, recommended that to support workers who are being affected by the closure of businesses, the government should offer “expanded safety nets for income and healthcare to avoid many people falling further into poverty due to job losses or health expenditures”.
Also, the party further suggested that the government should take inspiration from “Dr Nkrumah and General Acheampong by taking bold steps to facilitate the development of local industries and promote the implementation of solutions that would enable Ghanaians to gain the commanding heights of the economy”.
Ghana has recorded 53 cases of COVID-19 with two deaths.
The party advised President Nana Akufo-Addo to rely on science and facts to make decisions. Below is the full statement from the PPP: CORONAVIRUS, BEST TIME TO SAVE LIVES AND JOBS – PPP
The PPP has taken notice of the three different Presidential addresses to the nation during which the President banned all public gatherings, closed Ghana's borders among many other measures. We commend the President for taken such decision to protect citizens and health workers for their sacrifice. However, we are convinced that
there is the need to increase vigilance at our borders, as hundreds of thousands of families are depending on smart leadership to confront present-day challenges and avoid devastating human and job losses.
With 52 confirmed cases, 2 deaths and still counting, all PPP members, sympathizers and supporters are urged to take care of their health and protect others by ensuring that all hands are washed with soap and water regularly and thoroughly. We must maintain at least 2 meters (6 feet) distance with anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth. Those who have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, should seek early medical attention.
As a party, we want to caution Ghanaians that in difficult moments like this, we all need to take precautionary measures without being paranoid because we know that the Coronavirus thrives in the action of people and congestive circumstances. We will support government actions that will prevent community spreading of the virus including restrictions on the movement of people. It is important that we go beyond the one-day cleaning of markets and take further steps to prevent our markets and public transportation facilities from becoming means for spreading the virus. We cannot continue to think that the virus will only be spread by people who have travelled to our country from other countries. Therefore, it is important that urgent steps are taken to test as many people as possible so we know the true level of the problem we face.
We are faced with the prospect of a tidal wave of patients overwhelming our already stretched health facilities. Already, we experience blood shortages. Patients who need surgery including victims of car accidents and other emergencies experience difficulties getting the care they need. Our party encourages all healthy Ghanaians to
continue donating blood to the blood Bank while following the proper precautions to help us avoid a life-threatening blood shortage.
Beyond the health implications, our other greatest growing concern is the expected economic fallout this deadly virus could have on a larger scale. Per our estimation, this economic shock could lead to a sharp increase in poverty, making it even harder for us to achieve the already extremely demanding UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
We call on President Akufo-Addo to use all the tools at his disposal to ensure that our economy weathers this storm by considering the following recommendations:
1. Offer expanded safety nets for income and healthcare to avoid many people falling further into poverty due to job losses or health expenditures.
2. Ensure that local businesses and the hundreds of thousands of jobs it supports are able to weather the rapid economic deceleration brought on by the coronavirus.
3. Learn from Dr. Nkrumah and General Acheampong by taking bold steps to facilitate the development of local industries and promote the implementation of solutions that would enable Ghanaians to gain the commanding heights of the economy.
4. Expand and build more health facilities.
5. Encourage the building of industries to locally produce essentials such as medical products and food to substitute for imports and domesticate the economy and create productive, sustainable jobs.
6. Restrict Importation of consumer goods produced locally and provide low cost funds for local producers. Goldstar, Hyundai, Samsung and Daewoo all Korean brand names were nurtured and promoted with low-interest government loans, tax incentives and export/import facilities.
7. Encourage consumers to purchase what they need, and not to buy in large amounts or at prices that are based on fear.
8. Set targets for the Sanitation Ministry to clean the country of preventable diseases for productivity gains.
9. Waive Water and Electricity bills for the next three months.
10. Put on hold for a few months, punitive actions from SSNIT and GRA and also waive all penalties imposed. The numbers of those who pay tax and make SSNIT contributions are already small. We should not in this difficult time kill those few local enterprises.
We are of the opinion that every decision of the President must be based on science and facts to protect public health and keep people safe. We know the directive of the President on public gathering will be hard for political parties like the PPP, but they are temporary, and they are necessary to slow the spread of the virus and help save lives.
As we work through this crisis as a nation, we need swift action from the President and Parliament in doing what is right by supporting our indigenous businesses with stimulus packages. Our dedication to working families and businesses must transcend partisanship.
Nii Allotey Brew-Hammond