Artisanal, small scale mining, others blacklisted in new SME grant disbursement

About 18 categories of businesses, including those that affect the country’s forest cover such as artisanal and small-scale mining, have been blacklisted in the disbursement of the newly introduced GH¢145million Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Grant.

An exclusion list published on the website of the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), the government institution disbursing the funds, said  the World Bank grant could not be used for  commercial activities that had either been banned locally or  abroad or had health and environmental repercussions.

The COVID-19 Response Grant Programme is under the World Bank Funded Ghana Economic Transformation Project (GETP) and the Ghana Tourism Development Project (GTDP).

The GETP whose application opened on June 21, 2021 seeks to promote private investments and firm growth in non-resource-based sectors, while GTDP whose portal went live on June 29, 2021, is expected to improve the performance of tourism in targeted destinations in Ghana.

The exclusion list include production or trade in any product or activity deemed illegal under Ghana’s laws or regulations or international conventions and agreements, or subject to international bans, such as pharmaceuticals, pesticides/herbicides and ozone depleting substances.

Under the aforementioned category are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), wildlife or products regulated under Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Also excluded are any activity that would lead to conversion or degradation of critical natural habitats or their supporting areas; any activities that would lead to conversion or degradation of critical forest areas, related critical natural habitats, and clearing of forests or forest ecosystems.

Commercial logging operations for use in primary tropical moist forest, production or trade in wood or other forestry products other than from sustainably managed forests are  excluded.

Production or trade in weapons and ammunition, in alcoholic beverages (excluding beer and wine), tobacco, gambling, casinos and equivalent enterprises are also excluded but it did not apply to project sponsors who are not substantially involved in these activities.

Featured on the blacklist is the production or trade in radioactive materials with the exception of purchase of medical equipment, quality control (measurement) equipment and any equipment where the World Bank considers the radioactive source to be trivial and/or adequately shielded.

The fund, according to GEA , could not be used for drift net fishing in the marine environment using nets in excess of 2.5km in length, neither the production nor activities involving harmful or exploitative forms of forced labour/harmful child labour.

Production, trade, storage, or transportation of significant volumes of hazardous chemicals, or commercial scale usage of hazardous chemicals including gasoline, kerosene, and other petroleum products are on the exclusion list.

Commenting on the eligibility for the grant at a stakeholder meeting in Accra recently, the Chief Executive Officer of GEA, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh said it was for  non-resource-based sectors such as agro-processing, manufacturing, textiles and garments, food and beverages, tourism and hospitality, pharmaceutical and companies into the production of personal protective equipment (PPE).

She said this grant programme was solely for SMEs that had been impacted negatively by the pandemic, adding that “This fund is to help them propel for growth to ensure they also employ people and that business continues.

BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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