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2020 Mid-year Budget Review:Govt unveils GH¢100bn COVID-19 rescue package…to get economy back on track

A  GH¢100 billion development programme that seeks to help the country absorb the shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic and get the economy back on its track, is to be rolled out by the government.

The three and half years programme named the ‘COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) Programme’ with the tagline ‘Obaatan Pa’ is expected to anchor the transformation of the country.

The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta  who disclosed this when he presented the 2020 mid-year fiscal policy review in parliament said President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would launch it in the ensuing  weeks.

“The Ghana CARES Obatanpa programme is an unprecedented, bold and audacious GH¢100 billion programme for us to re-imagine and re-envision our future like never before,” he said.

Shedding light on the programme which would draw GH¢70 billion from  the private sector, he said, it was sequenced in two phases: a stabilisation phase that would run from this month to the end of the year and a revitalisation phase which would be implemented from 2021 to 2023.

The first phase, he said, would ensure food security, protect businesses and worker incomes, strengthen the health system, attract private investments and support Ghanaian businesses.

He said the government would amongst other things intensify support for farmers through the Planting for Food and Jobs and Rearing for Food and Jobs programmes, provide financial support to the National Buffer Stock Company and Ghana Commodity Exchange to enable them store and trade stocks as needed to smoothen out supplies on the market.

According to Mr Ofori-Atta, liquidity would be injected into the system to ease cash flow difficulties of businesses and protect workers by honouring obligations to contractors and suppliers in a timely manner and expand procurement from local producers for its goods and services.

In the unlikely event that some businesses may need to shed some labour in order to survive, the government, through the Ministry of Employment and Labour Relations (MELR), would establish a national unemployment insurance scheme. 

In collaboration with the social partners including labour and employers, the scheme, would provide temporary income support to workers that are laid off and also provide them access to re-training to help them take advantage of employment opportunities in new fields.

“Government will soon roll out an Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan II, which will enable us to continue strengthening the health system,” he announced.

 As part of preparations towards implementation of the second phase, Revitalisation Phase which would accelerate the Ghana Beyond Aid transformation agenda, he said government would work with parliament to pass a number of legislations to aid fundraising.

These would include bills on tax exemptions, public-private partnerships (PPPs), the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), development finance institutions, Home Ownership Financing and Enterprise Ghana.

 He said the government would take resolute measures to improve the business environment for the private sector including significant improvements in business regulations and their implementation, digitisation, expansion of access to finance.

The Finance Minister mentioned that, “The CARES Revitalisation and Transformation agenda is about national survival and security, just like our response to the COVID-19 pandemic itself. Therefore, we need to approach it as such, with a resolute focus on implementation”.

 “We will have to pursue a ‘Whole-of-Government’ approach, and in close collaboration with and support to the private sector. And we will make sure they happen,” he further stated.

BY KINSLEY ASARE & JONATHAN DONKOR 

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