Chief Executive of the Private Enterprises Federation, Nana Osei Bonsu says government has not done enough to help lessen the impact of COVID-19 on private businesses.
Nana Osei Bonsu who was speaking on the Townhall Talk Show on Asaase Radio99.5 argued that businesses in Ghana have not received adequate support to aid them to survive the economic impact of the global pandemic. ‘Where is the support system for businesses to take care of their employees? Where is the support system for businesses to create the PPE’s, face masks, sanitizers, and where is the support system for businesses to create virtual platforms to engage their workers in virtual discussions?
‘‘So these are times that are very trying, and upsetting the way that businesses normally operate because this is unplanned and you know businesses survive on predictability. They survive on a plan, so if this unplanned budget is laid upon the already difficult income streams, then you know what I mean by the damaging impact of COVID-19’’ he averred.
His comments were in response to a question posed to him by Host of the show, Kofi Abotsi about the impact of the novel coronavirus on local businesses, and government’s efforts to support businesses.
Nana Osei Bonsu said Ghanaian Businesses are at the grassroots level with little or minimal procurement power, explaining that the capacity to procure the necessary tools and equipment including laptops and data to engage staff who may be at home due to to the pandemic is expensive.
He said ‘’Because of the kind of systems that we have, the internet access by some businesses to be able to reach every employee at any time. The social distancing that is required, so we have introduced a shift system where two come in today and two come in tomorrow, there is no coordination. So we’re trying our best to meet the dangers of the pandemic, we’re trying our best to do business but it’s not easy. We’re adopting, but slowly and like I said, the constraint is the access to internet and the consistency on the internet, that is one of the precarious conditions we find ourselves and the cost element as well.
The PEF Chief Executive Officer bemoaned the high cost of internet in Ghana, particularly the cost overheads of telecommunications since most employers now engage their staff mostly on phone and virtually saying ‘’I have to be talking to my employees on the phone consistently, I have to be on the internet 24/7, they have to be on the internet 24/7, so the cost element on the other side is the consistency and the quality of the service and this is why we have to find ways collectively, not only government but private sector to ensure that now that COVID has leveled the playing ground, government should recognize the immediate need to emphasize on the availability of internet at the highest level.’’
In April this year, government rolled out a six hundred million-cedi (GH¢600m) package as soft loans to Small and Medium Scale Enterprises in the country, as part of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the private sector.
President Akufo-Addo who announced this also indicated that the loan was to be repaid within two years with a one-year moratorium.
“The Minister for Finance has been directed by me to prepare, for approval by Parliament, a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme to address the disruption in economic activities, the hardship of our 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’’ he said at the time.