The impact of COVID-19 on jobs and incomes is already hitting us. COVID-19 is less than four months old, yet its impact on jobs and incomes is already nerve-racking globally. In Ghana, a country that has a greater percentage of the economy in the informal sector, the effect is a daunting demon for government, business, and employees across many industries.
Today, whiles people cannot go to work, others have been laid off and many more have had their sources of income depleted.
The partial lockdown is a perfect mirror through which Ghana saw the effect of COVID-19 on not just ordinary people, but businesses, and the economy at large.
During the “Point of View” program on Citi Tv hosted by Benard Avle and monitored by NewsGhana24.com it came to light that, many workers in Ghana have either lost their jobs, have been asked to proceed on some kind of leave whiles many businesses are uncertain how soon they will resume full operations. This has an immediate effect on jobs, businesses, and growth. The Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori Atta has revised Ghana’s projected growth for 2020 downwards from 6.5% to 1.5%.
Workers in the tourism industry are some of the worse hit, exporters of Agriculture produces have been impacted and private schools have shut down. It is estimated that 34% of hotel employees have been asked to stay home, 40% are to be laid-off leaving some 26% at post.
The self-employed can also not work because the demand for many services has fallen for the past two months.
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Speaking on the program, Prof Wiliam Baah Boateng, Head of Economics Department of the University of Ghana said, we have been in this for some two months with some restrictions and lockdowns and Ghana’s ability to get over this depends on how long the situation lasts.
He said while we think about workers, we must also think about the government, which is also feeling the pain.
“I feel for employers and workers who may have to lose their appointment but we should also bring the government in since if economic activities come to a halt government will not get the taxes it needs”
He called for the need to bring together all the economic agents in the country to deal with the holistic challenge. He is of the view that whether Ghana will head towards a recession will depend on how long the pandemic lasts.
He kicked against the call for the government to print money with the view that the absence of economic activities in the economy will make such a move unsuccessful. We don’t have the reserves as a country; he added.
Solomon Kotei- General Secretary ICU, Prof Wiliam Baah Boateng, Head of Economics Department of the University of Ghana, Dr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo-Director of Research and Policy, TUC and Dr. Elikem Tamaklo – Director, Nyaho Clinic who joined the conversation via zoom agreed that Ghana needs to innovate ideas to turn the economy around and mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on jobs.
If we are trying to help workers, the informal sector cannot be left out. The textile seller, the event organizers, and everyone out there needs to be considered. Since the informal sector is linked to the formal sector and workers are being asked to go home, it will impact the informal sector sales.