The Trades Union Congress (TUC) Ghana has urged government to inject $3.1 billion, equivalent of GH₵18 billion, into the economy to ameliorate the impact of COVID-19 on the country.
That, it said, was the only way to boost consumption and export to revamp the economy and restore Gross Domestic Growth to 7 per cent by the end of the year.
This suggestion was contained in a statement issued by TUC in Accra yesterday on a preliminary assessment of the Impact of COVID-19 on Enterprises, Employment and Livelihood in Ghana copied to the government.
It said the country's GDP growth was expected to decline from 6.5 to 1.5 percent in 2020 and would translate into output loss of more than GH₵18 billion, equivalent of $3.1 billion.
"The national economic response must be proportionate to the scale of the human, economic and social costs arising out of the pandemic. We expect the stimulus package to match the magnitude of the projected decline in Gross Domestic Product (GDP)," the statement said.
The statement suggested that given the severity of the current crisis, government should not hesitate to "borrow" funds from the Heritage Fund to fund its developmental projects.
According to the TUC, borrowing from the Heritage Fund was better for the country now and in the future than borrowing from other sources.
"What ought to be done is for government to treat any amount it withdraws from the Heritage Fund as a loan to be repaid with the appropriate interest when the COVID-19 storm has passed," the statement said.
The TUC entreated government to review the country's trade policy to ban the importation of products that can be produced locally.
The statement said the COVID-19 crisis had ignited the innovative spirit of the citizens and demonstrated the ingenuity of Ghanaians to produce to meet local needs and there was no need to import products that can be produced locally.
"The difficulties we are experiencing in this pandemic have already ignited the innovative spirit of Ghanaians. We are now producing hand sanitizers, face masks, and other PPEs locally. The invention of hand washing devices in this short period attests to the ingenuity of Ghanaians.
It is expected that importation of these and other commodities we can produce locally, such as rice and poultry, will not be allowed after the COVID-19 crisis. We should use this opportunity to review Ghana's trade policy to either ban or restrict the importation of such commodities and support our domestic private sector with funds from the proposed stimulus package to produce them locally," the statement said.
It stressed that "with these and other complementary policy initiatives, Ghana will recover quickly from the effects of the pandemic and return to the pre-Covid-19 growth path".
It called on the government to relax the relevant laws to enable Bank of Ghana to provide the necessary financial backing to it given the size of the loss in economic activity and its associated economic and social cost.
The TUC commended government for the numerous interventions it has taken, including stimulus package, tax waivers, to revamp the economy and lessen the economic and social impact of COVID on the citizens and businesses.