From: A vigilant citizen; not a spectator.
On “Holy” Thursday, His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Ghana, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, directed that populations specified in a previous Executive Instrument continue to observe another week of “lockdown”. For ease of reference, these communities were the Greater Accra Region, the Greater Kumasi and specified contiguous areas to Greater Kumasi and Awutu Senya East District of the Central Region.
The week’s prognosis
Frankly speaking, and judging from the reported trend of persons testing positive for the novel Corona virus [Covid-19], I do not know what is anticipated to change in a week for which reason the President extended the lockdown by just a week. Numerous tests results are expected in the week ahead. I am told of ongoing contact tracing efforts, and if what we have observed so far is anything to go by, then the number of confirmed cases is likely to increase.
Why go piecemeal?
So then, why this apparent ad hoc and piecemeal approach typified by the one week extension announced by the President? When, in reality borne out of simple logic, the lockdown should have been maintained till, at least, the 26th of April, 2020. In my considered opinion, Mr. President should have just announced a minimum extension of two weeks instead.
I hope and pray that His Excellency the President will not put his party ahead of 30Million people and announce a withdrawal of the lockdown and open a one week window to enable his party hold its primaries on the 25th April 2020. Since his address last Thursday night the number of cases have skyrocketed to over 566.
We now have reported cases in ten regions. It will be unwise to attempt a withdrawal of the lockdown for one week. The president must listen to wise counsel.
One gets a deeper understanding and clearer perspective of the situation when you speak to Medical Doctors and Health Workers at the various health centers, who are at the forefront of the efforts to contain the spread of the virus.
From quite a number of these Health Professionals, the lockdown should be for, at least, another six weeks. These professionals indicate that the President and his appointees have been given this advice and should be bold to declare a longer lockdown and save us all the unnecessary anxieties and uncertainties surrounding this piecemeal approach to managing the lockdown.
Rebate on Power? More like a smokescreen…
Numerous business and corporate entities have shut down or are operating at low capacity with power – a variable cost –already immaterial to their base operational cost. The announced 50% discount/subsidy in electricity to businesses might not be helpful to a number of us as our businesses cut across industries seriously impacted by the disease. Hotels have shut down,
manufacturing entities have temporarily closed and even Media organizations are operating with only essential staff as all others have been asked to work from home. Thus, the 50% electricity subsidy/discount for businesses will hardly be beneficial to businesses and would, therefore, not greatly impact the dire economic situation as implied.
Using 50% of my March electricity consumption/bill as benchmark for an absolute 50% rebate on my consumption from April does not provide any comfort. A consumer’s March bill reflects 24 days
in the month during which his home was empty for at least 10hours each day because the parents were at work and the kids in school. Beginning April all have been home with electricity consumption and bills now 50%-60% above prior months average consumption. Assume a March consumption of GHS700.00 and nine days into April already GHS400.00, one can project that the month might end with electricity consumption above GHS1, 200.00. A subsidy of GHS350.00 (50% of GHS700.00 March bill) reduces the bill to GHS850.00 – still 20% above usual average consumption. As for those within the lifeline threshold, their stay at home might take them outside the life line brackets with rough analysis indicating an increase in their electricity bill of 12%-20% above their average consumption.Hence, the 50% subsidy does not offer any comfort as it makes consumers worse off.
Perhaps a better approach would have been to offer a subsidy/discount to households that limit their bills to a maximum monthly average of the last three months’ consumption.
Some proper trend analysis of power usage for both businesses and individuals perhaps should have been done and would have been helpful in making decisions that would positively impact the citizenry.
Where it is really needed……Data consumption
Working and e-learning from home demands high data/internet usage and with internet/mobile services now a utility, government must seriously consider the advice of former President Mahama and offer some substantial discount/subsidy on data services in particular. The Communication Service Tax [CST], for example, could be removed as this would have a clear and observable
mitigating effect on consumers.
The interventions announced by the President may seem and sound grand and rosy but unfortunately, they are of no substantial impact on businesses and we, the people. Truth be told, our situation as a people is gradually worsening.
Business Executive and a Former Deputy Minister for Communications.
The author of this piece is Mr Edward Ato Sarpong . He is the Former Deputy of Communications in Ghana. Views expressed in the article does not reflect that of Ryvanz Mia Online.
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