The Coronavirus Alleviation Programme will primarily support the provision of food and water for households,reliefs for health sector workers and soft loans for micro, small and medium-sized businesses.
The transfer follows Parliament’s approval to lower the cap on the Ghana Stabilisation Fund from $300 million to $100 million.
This has enabled the Finance Ministry to transfer the excess funds, about GH¢1.26 billion ($219 million) into the national kitty.
Presenting a statement on the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) in Parliament, Mr Ofori-Atta said he was in Parliament to seek authorisation to access the requisite amounts from the Contingency Fund to confront the challenge that had engulfed the nation in this matter of coronavirus (COVID-19) affliction.
The request is consistent with Article 177 (1) of the 1992 Constitution. The request is to be referred to the Finance Committee, which will discuss the merits of the request and make recommendations for the approval or otherwise of the Finance Minister’s request.
More cases, deaths
Mr Ofori-Atta said the pandemic continued to rage and as of last Tuesday, the world had recorded the largest number of deaths in a day of 1,850 people in the United States of America.
The dead, he said, included some Ghanaians such as Mr Mike Adjei, a former employee of the Daily Graphic and State Hotels.
The global number of cases has also soared from 693,282 to 1,279,722, with 72,614 deaths.
In Ghana, the death toll had reached six as of yesterday, with Cape Coast, the Central Regional capital recording its first case and bringing the number of cases across the country to 313.
“It is this apocalypse that our President has sworn to avert from our land,” Mr Ofori-Atta stated.
“Mr Speaker, in his fifth address to the nation on April 5, 2020, which focused on Ghana’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, outlined a number of reliefs for Ghanaians as part of the measures that the government had planned to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Ofori-Atta recalled.
He said it was the belief of President Akufo-Addo that the country’s resources should be used to protect and ensure the sanctity of life of every Ghanaian.
In that address, he said the President directed the Minister for Finance to prepare for approval by Parliament, a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP), to mitigate the disruption to economic activities and the hardship imposed on the people of Ghana by the coronavirus pandemic, and to rescue and revitalise our industries that have fallen prey to the disease.
The President further stated that the Minister of Finance would immediately make available a minimum of GH?1 billion to households and businesses, particularly micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, as part of the initiative.
The Finance Minister called on all citizens to pull in one direction, saying “we must hold up the President’s hands to lead and inspire us to defeat this virus. The Lord will make a way in this desert as He unfolds a new thing for the nation as stated in Isaiah 43.”
Mr Ofori-Atta expressed the hope that at the end of the trauma posed by the pandemic, the country would have reinforced its identity as a nation that cared, a nation that visited the fatherless, widows and protected the poor and vulnerable.
“That is our most sacred duty and responsibility; beyond the cold calculus of the economics,” the Finance Minister stated.