The Ghana Employers Association (GEA) has urged the Government to create an Emergency Fund to help address the financial challenges or fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.

A statement signed by Mr Alex Frimpong, the Chief Executive, GEA, made available to the Ghana News Agency, said businesses could access the fund for the payment of workers’ salaries, procurement of raw materials and working capital, among others, during these critical times of COVID-19 if they were to retain employees on their respective payrolls.

On the potential impact on employment, the statement said a good number of businesses, especially sectors hardest hit by the pandemic, were likely to review the employment relationships with their workers including some potential lay-offs.

It said in such a situation there would be the need to engage the Trade Unions concerned or the Workers’ Groups through negotiations and dialogue on the financial implications of the lay-offs since the disruption of the employment contracts may not have been contemplated by the parties.

Touching on potential business closures, it noted that in the unlikely event of total business closures in the country, there would be the need for Government to support affected organisations in the following ways: payment of workers’ salaries for the period business closure, and payment of redundancy packages to affected workers.

The statement said businesses and employers expected government to do everything possible to completely contain the spread of the virus and allay all fears in the populace.

It noted that containment of the situation was also paramount in helping to prevent high post COVID-19 losses in key sectors of the economy such as tourism, manufacturing, pharmaceutical, banking and finance.

This would require the development of stabilization and stimulus packages for businesses and households to reduce the impact of the pandemic both in the crisis period and after the virus had been eliminated.

On support of local production of raw materials, the GEA recommends that Government worked with GEA and other business associations to identify and support local firms that produced substitutes of imported products to ensure continuity of production and consumption.

It said for those inputs that would still have to be imported, the GEA recommends that the exemption made for cargo to arrive by sea, air and land (following the Presidential announcement of March 21, shutting all our borders – land, sea and air) was maintained under all lock down scenarios.

On Continued Operations of Existing Commercial Bank Facilities, it said a good number of businesses operate on the strength of Commercial Bank Facilities.

The statement said the drastic dislocation in the finances of those businesses – small, medium and large – occasioned by the negative impact of COVID-19, could not be over-emphasised.

It said the GEA strongly recommended that Government worked with the Commercial Banks to allow the businesses to continue to access the facilities under more flexible conditions to prevent them from collapse.

It said the GEA urges Government to defer payment of Value Added Tax (VAT) for a three-month period to cushion businesses hard-hit by the outbreak of the pandemic as well as income tax payments.

It said all registered businesses in Ghana must be eligible for this relief.

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