A total lockdown might not be the best option for Ghana now, but should that happen, more expenditure would be needed to sustain economic growth with an economic stimulus package of over GH¢15 billion for a 28-day lockdown, an economic think tank stated.
President of the Institute for Liberty & Policy Innovation (ILAPI), Mr Peter Bismark Kwofie, said as an SME economy, the government must spend more to support local businesses with some tax rebates, financial reliefs, refunds and social assistance, a situation which calls for both critical fiscal and monetary measures.
"There are people who don't even have a place to get locked inside. Ghana has a housing deficit of over 1.5 million. Therefore, the government must advance plans to shelter some millions of Ghanaians in hotels, motels, and guest houses among others," he bemoaned.
Mr. Kwofie who spoke in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, mentioned critical areas to consider as businesses, jobs, internet connection, transport, fuel, tax compliance, raw materials, manufacturing, rent, health care, agriculture, security, utilities and occupational licenses.
He noted that many Ghanaians including the Ghana Medical Association (GMA) have called for a lockdown due to the exponential growth of the number of cases of the covid 19.
He argued that the informal economy would suffer from the lockdown because of loss of daily sales and income, while the sector may not directly benefit from the emergency financial response, which will reduce individual income and purchasing power.
"However, the government would still have to ensure the continuation of salaries of public sector employment and provision of basic needs and other services including electricity, essential services, water and food," he added.
To this end, he proposed that the government must meet all the relevant business associations including the manufacturing firms to deliberate consciously on production capacity and job loss, while the Ministry of Food and Agriculture through the Buffer Food Stock develops an outline to supply food to underprivileged homes.
He said, GRIDCO, VRA and ECG must ensure continuous supply of power since most institutions would be working from home with tariffs on electricity being reduced whereas the Ghana Water Company considering opening taps for those who are owing bills and at the same time making sure that water flows for hand washing at a considering cost.
He stressed that the government must meet the insurance commission as early as possible so that they could make readily available partial payment to their clients to support them in times of the panic and also provide exclusive premiums to their clients to support government's health interventions.
Mr Kwofie further stated that salaries of workers should not be subjected to full tax deductions with at least 50 per cent tax refund.
He explained that the proposals were based on a careful study of other nations which have implemented lockdowns due to COVID19 and expressed the hope that the measures should suffice, though not completely, but would help manage the situation of a lockdown.