The $100 million earmarked for the fight against COVID-19, announced by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has been secured and available to be disbursed, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta told Parliament on Monday.
He said the outbreak would cost Ghana GH¢ 11 billion, but urged Ghanaians to remain steadfast.
Mr Ofori-Atta gave an assurance that the Government would do whatever it takes to fight the pandemic and cushion economic difficulties resulting from the outbreak.
The Minster was in Parliament to brief the House on measures the Government has adopted to sustain the economy due to the disruption in caused by COVID-19, as directed by the President.
He further explained the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme and details of external assistance needed.
Last Saturday, the House received a request from the Government to approve an agreement with the World Bank for an amount of $35 million to support its operations in dealing with the pandemic.
The proposed agreement is between the Government of Ghana and the International Development Association (IDA), a subsidiary of the World Bank.
Mr Ofori-Atta announced that GH¢300 million had been disbursed to the National Health Insurance Authority to provide liquidity to hospitals.
On the foreign exchange market front, there had been increased demand for dollars, with a projected reduction in agricultural exports as well as a general shortage in food supply if the pandemic intensified.
He anticipated a decline in import volumes and values, which would lead to shortfalls in import duties by GH¢ 80 million.
Also, a reduction in imports will slow down production in Ghana.
The Finance Minister indicated that trade volumes and values reducing as a result of the pandemic, there would be an increased demand for gold which would have a positive impact on the economy.
However, social distancing may lead to reduction in productivity and loss of jobs.
At the ports, the outbreak had reduced arrival of containers and the Finance Minister said all should be done to preserve the nation’s foreign reserves.
(By Benjamin Mensah/Christopher Arko)