Covid-19 still devastating but we’ve managed it well-Minister
Ghana’s Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has lamented that the outbreak of the Covid-19 virus continues to be devastating especially the deaths recorded.
The Minister in delivering the mid-year budget review disclosed that as of 25th July 2021, overall COVID-19 infections since the first confirmed case on 12th March, 2020 has reached 103,019.
There are currently 4,983 active cases; 97,213 recoveries and against all efforts, 823 persons have died due to COVID-19 over the same period, he added.
He said since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government has developed and implemented a number of interventions expressed in the National COVID-19 Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan (EPRP I & II); and the National Strategic COVID-19 Response Plan: July 2020 – December 2024.
He continued: ”Mr. Speaker, these plans and related interventions provided a comprehensive framework to mobilise and disburse funds which have proved vital to the success of the national containment and case management measures. Since Ghana recorded its first two cases on 12th March, 2020, the Ghana Health Service has conducted 1,416,952 tests as of 25th July 2021, with a cumulative positivity rate of 7.3 percent.
Mr. Speaker, Ghana implemented the COVID-19 vaccination campaign as part of the containment strategy and has developed the National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP). It is planned that 20 million Ghanaians will be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity. Mr. Speaker, we have upgraded our national, regional and district cold chain facilities to widen our access to vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna that require -700C cold chains. These include 16 ultra-low cold freezers, 58 units of ultra-low freezers, 50 normal vaccine refrigerators, 300 boxes to be filled with ice packs, 300 ice packed freezers, 10 cold chain vans and 120 temperature monitoring devices.
Government has also committed to providing seed funding of US$25 million towards the development of the country’s capacity to produce vaccines domestically. This will be achieved through the establishment of a National Vaccine Institute.
Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support (CAPBuSS)
Mr. Speaker, the pandemic further threatened our efforts to tackle discrimination and inequality against women, since the sectors hard-hit by the crisis, like tourism, hospitality and small-scale retailing, employ a large number of women. It is important to note that, Ghana was one of the few countries in the world that devised a plan to ensure that the impact of the pandemic on MSMEs will be minimized. Through the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), formerly National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), a number of programs were implemented to minimize the impact of the pandemic and also to support in the realization of the Government’s vision of diversity, inclusivity and job creation.
Under the GH¢600 million Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support (CAPBuSS), a total amount of GH¢520,111,918.67 had been disbursed to 299,490 to MSME beneficiaries between May 2020 and June 2021. For the 299,490 beneficiaries who benefited under the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP Buss), 69% of the beneficiaries were women-owned businesses or MSMEs.
The intervention unlocked access to finance mainly to women who would not have been able to access funds to support and build their businesses. Technical Support was also provided in the form of training in Entrepreneurship and Financial Management to 15,748 beneficiaries across Ghana, with about 67 percent being females. Over 740,000 jobs have been protected and a database of 914,000 MSMEs has been created to inform policy.
Support was also given to specific sectors such as the Creative Arts, Media, and the Private Education to enable them continue to offer key services in peak of the pandemic. As at end June 2021, a total of GH¢52,293,093.00 has been disbursed to 29,698 beneficiaries within the creative arts industry. Additionally, 5,410 private schools, universities and associations within the educational sector received a total of GH¢41,211,577.