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President of policy think tank, Institute for Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI), Peter Bismark Kwofie, has commended the government for the decision to absorb water bills for the next three months as the fight against the deadly coronavirus intensifies.
He was however of the opinion that the decision should have been limited to only the regions on lockdown.
He told Nyankonton Mu Nsem on Rainbow Radio 87.5Fm that the government could have limited the decision to Accra, Kumasi, Tema and Kasoa and extend it the other regions only when they are added to the lockdown.
Mr. Bismark Kwofie explained that every lockdown must come with a stimulus package and for the first step, the decision to absorb water bills for three months is commendable.
He also is requesting the government to consider electricity as part of the package.
He further asked the government to make available funds to the Ghana Water Company (GWCL) so they will have the resources to work this period.
On the claims by the government it would need an amount of 9.5 billion to deal with the outbreak, he disagreed saying ”we need more than that figure”.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta recently told parliament the government would need 9.5 billion cedis to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation that may move the 2020 budget deficit to over 7 percent.
“Speaker, the total estimated fiscal impact from the shortfall in petroleum receipts, shortfall import duties, the shortfall in other tax revenues, the cost of the preparedness plan, and the cost of Coronavirus Alleviation Programme is GHS9,505 billion,” the Minister said when he appeared in Parliament.
But Mr. Kwofie reacting to this stated the government would need more than 9.5 billion to deal with the fight.
He had earlier stated that Ghana requires GH¢15 billion for 28 days’ total lockdown to sustain the economy and protect the lives of its citizens.
He said those who are calling for a total lockdown should note that that was not the best option for Ghana because should that happen, a stimulus package of over GH¢15 billion would be needed for a 28-day lockdown.
The president of ILAPI said the government would still have to ensure the continuation of salaries of public sector employment and provision of basic needs and other services, including electricity, essential services, water and food.
He said the informal economy would suffer from the lockdown because of loss of daily sales and income. The sector, he said, may not directly benefit from the emergency financial response but would reduce individual income and purchasing power.
According to him, since Ghana’s economy thrives on small and medium-scale enterprises, the government must spend more to support local businesses with some tax rebates, financial reliefs, refunds and social assistance.
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