The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on the government to quickly develop and implement a holistic economic response strategy to deal with the impact of the pandemic.
The Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr. Yaw Baah, made this appeal while speaking at the virtual celebration of International Workers’ Day.
According to him, such a strategy would require businesses and households to be given stimulus packages to stabilize and mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy.
This year’s International Workers’ Day was celebrated under the theme “COVID-19 In Ghana: Impact on Employment and Working Conditions.”
The event was specially arranged to admit very few people in response to the public gathering ban and social distancing directive.
Across the world, economies have recessed due to the impact of COVID-19. The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta upon delivering a statement on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy of Ghana said there was likely to be a significant slowdown in our GDP growth, significant shortfalls in petroleum revenues, shortfalls in import duties, shortfalls in other tax revenues, increased health expenditures and tighter financing conditions with consequences on the 2020 budget.
Already, some companies have asked their workers to stay home without salaries while others have had their salaries cut down.
Devastating Effects of COVID-19
Dr. Baah said an ongoing research by the Labour Research and Policy Institute of TUC indicated that the COVID-19 will have terrible consequences on the country in the coming years.
“Brothers and sisters, the disease has been with us just for about two months, but the devastation it has caused to our economy and social lives, it will take years to restore,” he said.
“A company which exports drinks has lost tons of its raw materials including mangoes, pineapple, pawpaw because it cannot export due to border closures around the world. All casual and contract workers have been laid off. The company has also stopped all overtime work. As a result, workers’ incomes have reduced drastically. The company is struggling to pay workers, pay social security, pay taxes and repay bank loans,” he added.
Call for more Support
The Secretary-General called for more support for businesses from the government although he acknowledged that the GH¢600 million announced by the government as a stimulus was a good start.
“In order to avoid serious supply chain disruptions, government should identify and support local enterprises that produce raw materials that can feed local industries.
“Government should arrange with commercial banks to ensure that businesses are allowed by banks to access credit facilities under more flexible conditions,” Dr Baah said.