MSMEs in North East Gonja never benefited from COVID-19 support – Report

It has been revealed that not a single Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) in the North East Gonja District in the Savannah Region benefited from the government’s relief packages rolled out to mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It has also been revealed that district service providers were not well informed on the government’s COVID-19 relief packages to educate the beneficiaries while the eligibility requirements for accessing the packages were not entirely clear to potential beneficiaries.

Information on the intervention was also highly politicised as political figures were the carriers of the information in the district.

This formed part of the findings of a community scorecard on the implementation of the government’s relief packages to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their operations of MSMEs in the area.

The compilation of the community scorecard was undertaken by the Ghana Developing Communities Association (GDCA), an NGO, with support from the STAR Ghana Foundation and the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office as part of the Baobab Initiative for Social Accountability on Government’s Response to COVID-19 (BISA) project, and the findings were presented at a town hall meeting at Kpalbe in the North East Gonja District.

The BISA project sought to assess the impact of the government’s support to MSMEs and how effective the government’s support had been from the perspective of the beneficiaries.

The COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the country in March 2019 and brought about disruptions to activities including operations of businesses leading to loss of jobs, the collapse of some businesses and a loss to some businesses.

In view of this, the government launched the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAP-BuSS) programme and the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (Ghana CARES) programme where MSMEs amongst others across the country were to apply to receive some funding to support their operations.

However, according to the community scorecard, MSMEs in the areas of dressmaking, carpentry, animal/meat production and motor mechanics in the North East Gonja District did not benefit from the relief packages even though the pandemic negatively impacted their operations.

The findings suggested that as part of the community scorecard “government should resort to the use of local information centres for dissemination of information on policies” to better reach the targeted population.

It was also suggested that district service providers should be resourced to adequately educate potential beneficiaries in terms of information and other logistics on the relief packages as well as appropriate platforms should be created for subsequent initiatives to ensure that the targeted population benefited.

Mr Mohammed Musah Tindawu, North East Gonja District Chief Executive promised that moving forward there would be an improvement on the situation since the Assembly now had an officer-in-charge of the district’s Business Advisory Centre to ensure that the targeted population benefited in the subsequent editions.

Mr Philip Gmabi, Technical Advisor, Policy and Governance, GDCA said the BISA project was undertaken in some districts in the Northern and Savannah Regions adding the findings from all the districts would be presented at a regional forum to engage relevant stakeholders on how to improve the situation in future interventions.

Source: GNA

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