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General Secretary of the largest opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia, has asked the Akufo-Addo led government to absolve the Communication and Petroleum taxes too in this coronavirus crisis period.
Commending government for providing free water in this crisis period, he added that it will be more appropriate if the Communication and Petroleum taxes are also taken care of by the government to mitigate the hardship of the masses.
Speaking on Okay FM’s 'Ade Akye Abia' program, he explained that this is the time the majority of Ghanaians need to feel the social intervention programs of the ruling government.
"We all agree that we are not in normal times, but this the time government can intervene and ensure that those who are hard hit by this coronavirus stress will also enjoy some sort of freedom," he stressed.
He said the sharing of food isn’t a bad initiative but how many people are going to benefit.
But he emphasized that when the government reduces and absorb the Communication and Petroleum taxes businesses and individuals would be cushioned to a larger extent.
Govt absorbs Water bill
Again, the Ghana Water Company Ltd and the Electricity Company of Ghana have been directed to ensure the stable supply of water and electricity during this period. In addition, there will be no disconnection of supply. Furthermore, Government will absorb the water bills for all Ghanaians for the next three months, i.e. April, May, and June. All water tankers, publicly and privately-owned, are also going to be mobilized to ensure the supply of water to all vulnerable communities.
Government, in collaboration with the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), Business & Trade Associations and selected Commercial and Rural Banks, will roll out a soft loan scheme up to a total of six hundred million cedis (GH¢600 million), which will have a one-year moratorium and two-year repayment period for micro, small and medium scale businesses.
Incentives For frontline health workers
Fellow Ghanaians, it is vital that we protect the lives of our frontline health workers, who are risking their lives every day to battle this virus. That is why the Government is placing a high priority on the procurement of personal protective equipment (PPEs) for them. Thus far, three hundred and fifty thousand (350,000) masks, five hundred and fifty-eight thousand, six hundred and fifty (558,650) examination gloves, one thousand (1,000) reusable goggles, twenty thousand (20,000) cover-alls, seven thousand (7,000) N-95 respirators, five hundred (500) waterproof gumboots, two thousand (2,000) reusable face shields, two thousand (2,000) gallons of hand sanitizers, ten thousand (10,000) 100ml pieces of hand sanitizers, and five hundred (500) shoe covers have been sent to the regional health directorates, for onward distribution to the district health directorates for use by our health workers in all the districts. The Minister for Health is ensuring that they reach the health workers. This, notwithstanding, Government is aware that more needs to be done, especially in the face of the global shortage of PPEs.
It is for this reason that Government is actively engaged with local manufacturing companies to assist them in the domestic production of PPEs., and I am encouraged by the response from the Ghanaian private sector. Domestic production of face masks, head covers, surgical scrubs, and gowns will commence from Tuesday. For example, three million, six hundred thousand face masks will be produced domestically, with an output of one hundred and fifty thousand (150,000) per day. I am equally impressed with the invention of a solar-powered handwashing sink by Jude Osei from Kumasi, and the ‘COVID-19 prevention electronic bucket’ made by Kelvin Owusu Dapaah and Richard Boateng, both students of Obuasi Senior High and Technical School. Necessity, indeed, is the mother of invention, as the Ghanaian sense of enterprise and innovation is beginning to be felt.
An insurance package, with an assured sum of three hundred and fifty thousand cedis (GH¢350,000) for each health personnel and allied professional at the forefront of the fight, has been put in place, with a daily allowance of one hundred and fifty cedis (GH¢150) being paid to contact tracers. The government has also decided that all health workers will not pay taxes on their emoluments for the next three months, i.e. April, May, and June. Furthermore, all frontline health workers will receive an additional allowance of fifty percent (50%) of their basic salary per month, i.e. for March, April, May, and June. The March allowance will be paid alongside that of April. The Ministry of Transport is also making available, for free, ‘Aayalolo’ buses to convey health workers in Accra, Tema, Kumasi, and Kasoa to and from work, along specific routes, for the entire duration of the restrictions.
I am happy that operators of public transport, such as trotros and taxis, are largely adhering to the admonition to observe social distancing in their vehicles. Each one of them should do so.
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