COVID-19 support for SOEs timely and appropriate

Since the first case of person-to-person transmission was reported in China at the end of January this year, the coronavirus has impacted every aspect of life in every part of the world.

Indeed, the disease has forced all countries to adopt extraordinary measures to support citizens who have been worse affected during this unprecedented time.

Across the world, governments, while taking tough measures to curtail the spread of the deadly disease, have also rolled out various stimulus packages for citizens and businesses as a way of supporting them in this crucial time.

Ghana is no different. The government, apart from absorbing the water and electricity bills of some category of persons, has rolled out plans to provide payroll support to eight state-owned enterprises (SOEs) whose operations have been seriously affected by the COVID-19 restrictions and general fall in business.

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, who disclosed this on Tuesday, did not identify the SOEs but said they were part of 19 SOEs who had been hard hit by the pandemic and projected to post losses up to GH¢1.55 billion for the year.

“More specifically, entities such as Metro-Mass Transport, the Intercity STC Company and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority recorded revenue declines of 62 per cent, 40 per cent and 71 per cent respectively between March and April of this year.

“The situation has become so dire that the Ministry of Finance is currently finalising plans to provide payroll support to eight SOEs whose operations have been seriously disrupted by the restrictions imposed as a result of the pandemic,” he said.

According to Mr Ofori-Atta, who was speaking at the ceremony to open the 2020 Annual Policy and Governance Forum organised by the State Interest and Governance Authority (SIGA) in Accra, on the theme “SIGA: one year on: achievements, challenges and prospects”, despite some efforts being made to minimise the impact of the disease, an assessment of the impact on 28 SOEs showed that 19 had been hard hit.

He underscored the fact that more needed to be done to keep them viable.

“These are truly challenging times, and added emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring that our institutions are properly managed, as they will be critical for supporting our economic recovery and structural transformation,” he said.

In fact, there is an overwhelming consensus that these are exceptional times and the government would have to stretch a hand of support to not only SOEs but also the private sector as both are critical to the economic development of the country.

The Ghanaian Times applauds the government for selecting the eight SOEs for the payroll support but would like to urge the government to increase the number to include the state-owned media who have also been affected.

The New Times Corporation, Graphic Communication Group, Ghana Broadcasting Corporation and the Ghana News Agency are facing challenges of unprecedented proportions due to COVID-19.

It is our hope that the government would be able to support these media organisations in addition to the others so that we all can improve and survive COVID-19 in order to contribute to national development post-COVID.

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