Members of the National Hospitality Association of Ghana (NHAG) have called on the government to negotiate with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to pay 50% salary of their employees over a period of six-months as their businesses have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Former President John Mahama made a similar suggestion that SSNIT give contributors a three-month token amid the coronavirus pandemic but the Trust said the move contravenes the SSNIT Pension Law.
Despite this, NHAG noted that long before the official lockdown of the Accra and Kumasi Metropolis by the President, and the official closing of Ghana’s borders in March this year, business activity in the sector had slowed down considerably because of the ban on social gatherings and the directive for residents to stay home in order to avoid contracting the virus.
“Business activity in the sector has since deteriorated, with the prospects of recovery becoming even more remote each week. Many restaurants and eateries are currently operating between 5 to 10 per cent of their total capacity. Indeed, some of our members have reported no business at all during this period, forcing them to more or less close down their business,” the Association lamented in a statement.
The Association noted that although President Akufo-Addo has announced a couple of measures to support the sector (the proposal to inject GHS3 billion and a six-month moratorium of loan repayments to the banks,) these measures are not being immediately implemented.
“Indeed, our members report that some of the banks have not heeded the President’s directive at all, and even with the few who are willing to do so, fewer still are prepared to go the full six-month period,” the statement said.
The NHAG is, therefore, appealing to the government for the following reliefs:
• Negotiate with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to pay 50% salary of employees over a period of six months
• Suspend rental charges for commercial tenants for at least 6 months
• Suspend the Tourism Levy of 1%, and use current reserves to aid restaurants and eateries
• Reduce property rates by 50%
• Suspend all charges, including VAT and related taxes until further notice
• Suspend Union annual salary increment requests
• Mitigate import duties on Food and Non-Food Products
The Association said it believes the above measures would provide much-needed respite to the industry and prevent an unmitigated collapse which could wipe off all the economic gains made so far by the Government in the last few years.