COVID-19 pandemic hampers business growth in Western Region – MOTI

Sekondi Takoradi Market Social Distancing Model

Mr Isaac Yankson, Western Regional Trade and Industry Officer has lamented that COVID-19 pandemic has globally disrupted the supply chains, with significant supply shortages and consequent price hikes, slowdown in investments and remittances and job losses.

He stressed that just as businesses were suffering globally and elsewhere in Ghana, the Western Region was not exceptional as the hospitality industry was adversely impacted due to closure of borders and general slowdown in tourism and demand for international travel and decline in trading volumes and values due to disruption in supply chain globally.

Mr Yankson who made this known in an interview with the GNA mentioned reduced production due to drop in sales, minimized labour due to voluntary leaves and shift systems to meeting the social distancing protocol, economic hardships and a mixed impact of COVID-19 on commodity prices as some of the challenges.

He added that there was a contraction in trade volumes resulting in net loss of revenue to the Government.

Mr Yankson noted that the government had implemented certain tax measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on businesses and households,like the extension of due dates for filling of tax returns from the standard four months to six months, grant of waiver of penalties on principal tax liabilities owed by taxpayers who are able to redeem their outstanding liabilities by 30th June 2020.

Waiver of taxes on selected withdrawals from third-tier pension funds, grant of deduction against income tax for private sector contributions and donations made towards addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, and the institution of an email filing and direct transfer payment system to allow taxpayers file and pay taxes with the various Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) offices remotely.

He said though the government had announced a relief on water and electricity for both households and businesses, LPG gas was still expensive, which must be reduced to enable industries to power their plants for production.

According to him, most of the measures implemented by the government were targeted at stimulating economic growth considering that COVID-19 has already begun to slow down economic activities, which impact could get worse in the next couple of months and called on business owners to take advantage of the stimulus packages that may apply to them.

Mr Yankson advised business owners to perform an operational risk assessment, consider and plan for the impact of disruption on critical business functions, and develop rapid communications plan and approach to build and maintain trust and reputation during the crisis for staff and stakeholders.

The Trade Officer pointed out that trade within the Sub-region should not be stifled whereas movement must be ongoing to ensure that pre-facilitation was not impeded and promised the continuous support of his outfit to create a conducive environment for trade facilitation in the region.

He urged employers to be concerned with the health of their employees by putting in place pragmatic measures to prevent possible infection and spread of the COVID-19 and called on employees to empathize with their employers and support measures proposed by their employers for mutual benefits.

He noted that the preventive protocols, which included; regular hand washing with soap under running water, using alcohol-based hand sanitizers, avoiding hand shaking, social distancing and avoiding over crowded places were the surest way to control the spread of the virus.

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