In his last Sunday’s Covid-19 update, April 19, 2020, President Akuffo-Addo disclosed that he expects the disbursement of the GH₵600m stimulus package for micro, small and medium-scale (SME) businesses to start in May.
The stimulus package, according to the President, which forms part of the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) meant to support households and businesses.
Following this, players in the private sector as well as some finance and economic experts have begun asking and wondering what criteria would be used to select deserving SMEs to benefit from the stimulus package.
Towards this end, an Economist and a Private sector practitioner, in a discussion of TV3’s “Business Focus” show on Monday, April 20, suggested to the Government some criteria for choosing applicants for the disbursement of the GH₵600m stimulus package.
Should this be followed, they believe the distribution of the money will be devoid of accusations of partiality and cronyism which are synonymous with government interventions.
Professor Peter Quartey’s suggestion
First, a Director at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Professor Peter Quartey, proposed that the criteria for selection should be based on the viability and sustainability of the business.
This, he said, will help the government to tell whether the business has the capacity to pay back the loan or not. He added that “even though this is in the form of a soft loans, the company must demonstrate an ability to pay it back in due time”.
While calling for transparency in the disbursement, the Economic Professor also urged the government to, as a matter of urgency, come out with the modalities required for disbursement of the money to enable the SMEs begin the process of resuscitating their businesses.
“I expect that within the next month or two, a decision should be taken on some of these applications so that companies can quickly revive their businesses and start producing to revive the economy”, he said.
Prof. Quartey also cautioned against cronyism and disbursement based on party affiliations.
Private Enterprise Federations CEO’s take
The second person to also make a suggestion of the issue of criteria, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Private Enterprise Federation, Nana Osei Bonsu.
He said that SMEs must be selected on the basis of their general impact on the economy and the communities they operate in relative to ability to create jobs and wealth in the country.
Mr Bonsu also called for greater transparency and accountability in the disbursement.