Exactly a month ago, I wrote an article with the headline “The Media deserve a stimulus package” where I advocated the need for the government to assist all media houses in the country with some relief items considering the enormous role they are playing the fight against the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

I, among other things, proposed to the government to consider the following:

  1. Waving the cost of renewing frequency authorization at least for one year.
  2. Pay the cost of electricity bill covering a period of six months.
  3. Pay the cost of water bill covering a period of six months.
  4. Cut down their tax returns at least 70%.

My proposal was premised on the GH₵1billion stimulus package under a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) announced by the President, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, on Friday, March 27, 2020.

The amount is to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and households and ensure job losses are minimized.

My call for a stimulus package for the media was re-echoed by the Ghana Journalists Association, Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA), Association of Women in the Media (ASWIM), and the Private Newspaper Publishers Association of Ghana (PRINPAG) at a joint press conference held at the Accra International Press Center on April 8, 2020.

At the event, three things stood out among the proposals presented by the group for government’s consideration. They include:

  1. provision of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),
  2. transport for journalists by way of Ayalolo buses or other means, and
  3. the setting up of a COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund in line with what has been established at the COVID-19 National Trust Fund.

The topmost priority among the three items was the proposal for the establishment of a COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund which was championed by the President of PRINPAG, Mr. Andrew Edwin Arthur.

This COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund, according to Mr. Arthur, should be managed by an independent body that would receive proposals and vet them and decide on which support is appropriate for an individual organization.

He said the same body should institute insurance packages out of the fund to support media professionals. “PRINPAG believes that these would go a long way to embolden Ghana’s media”, he noted.

Much as I support the establishment of the COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund which if implemented will provide some relief items to support media houses, I do not subscribe to the setting up of an independent body to manage the fund.

I say so because the disbursement of the Media Development Fund that was set up President John Evans Atta-Mills of blessed memory is a case study to guide all of us.

The Fund was aimed at training and building the capacity of media practitioners to deliver better results in terms of prosecuting their various mandates for the development of the country.

However, till date, no proper accountability has been rendered as to how the Fund was utilized.

In January 2015, then Dean of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC), Mr. Andrew Edwin Arthur who is now the President of PRINPAG, demanded the where about of the Fund when he delivered an address at the end of year party for the Corps.

“It is regrettable that such a laudable initiative has been abused by those who were expected to handle it, and I believe it will not be too much to call on the managers of the Fund to come out and let the Ghanaian media know the current state of the Fund”, he noted in his address.

It is on record that some monies were released to the then Ministry of Information as the Media Development Fund, it still remains a fact that no proper accountability has been rendered.

I believe strongly that it was based on this scenario that the President of PRINPAG called for an independent body to manage the COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund.

Whatever it is, the fact still remains that a body was mandated to manage the Fund but failed in its mandate.

Therefore, the purpose of establishing the Fund was not realized.

Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus which has so far, according to www.worldometers.info infected 3,593,652, people worldwide, with 249,112 deaths and 1,166,079 recoveries, media houses in Ghana have not been spared the brunt of this virus.

The practice of containment measures such as social distancing has resulted in a lot of media informing some of their staff to proceed either proceed on leave or work from home while rotating the few that have been asked to report to work.

Some media houses have even gone to the extent of mutually terminating the employment contract they have with some of their staff. This is a measure to cut down cost while sustaining the business.

Advertising has sharply dropped since businesses are adopting cost-cutting measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Events and promotions account for a chunk of revenue to many media houses. However, COVID-19 has shut the doors to all out-door events.

Some of the private print media houses are even struggling to produce either on daily or bi-weekly basis.

Production cost is weighing heavily on the media houses.

However, in spite of these challenges, the media houses have lived up to expectation, especially, regarding coverage of COVID-19.

I will therefore propose that the stimulus package being considered by the government for media houses must include the following to ensure fairness or equitable distribution of state resources:

  • Waiver of electricity bills for all media houses from March to December 2020.
  • Waiver of all water bills for all media houses from March to December 2020.
  • Waiver of cost in renewing frequency license for the year 2021.
  • All private newspapers should be directed to have their schedules discussed with the state-owned newspaper organizations that have printing press (Graphic Communications, Ghanaian Times) and if possible Daily Guide (Private) for their newspapers to be printed. The cost must be absorbed by the government from the period their schedule was approved to December 2020.
  • Additionally, all media houses that will require the injection of some liquidity into their operations should be made to access a loan facility from a designated state-owned bank at zero percent interest rate which is payable within five years.

By so doing, the media houses could retain majority of their staff if not all, thereby, preventing massive job losses in the industry.

A well thought out plan for the implementation of aforementioned proposals will avoid bickering among those that will be deprived of these relief items and the government will have its peace of mind.

 

In December 2019, public health officials from China contacted the World Health Organization about a problem they had at hand. That problem was a new virus that was causing pneumonia-like illness and spreading through and outside the city of Wuhan in the Hubei Province.

The virus is the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Since its outbreak, almost every nation has recorded a case of the COVID-19.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020. It subsequently recognized it as a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

As at 14:56 GMT on April 3, 2020, the world had recorded 1,041,119 coronavirus cases, with 55,203 deaths while 222,332 had recovered, according to data captured on the website of http://www.worldometers.info.

Ghana is not an isolated country as far as the novel coronavirus is concerned. As at 11:30 GMT on Friday, April 3, 2020, the West African nation had recorded 204 cases with five deaths while a total of 49 people have recovered from the symptoms and are being managed from their various homes.

Due to the increasing number of recorded cases around the world, most of the affected countries have locked down with the attending dire consequences on various sectors of the global economy.

On March 25, 2020, the US Senate passed an approximately US$2.2trillion stimulus package to help in an effort to jump-start an economy decimated by the pandemic. The stimulus package was to provide aid for workers, small businesses and industries impacted in the recent weeks by the virus.

On March 17, 2020, the British government announced a £330billion rescue package of loan guarantees to help U.K. businesses survive the economic crunch brought about by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, March 27, 2020, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in a similar fashion announced a GH₵1billion stimulus package under a Coronavirus Alleviation Program, CAP.

The amount is to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus on businesses and households and ensure job losses are minimized.

“The Minister of Finance… will, then, immediately make available a minimum of GH₵1billion to households and businesses, particularly, small and medium scale enterprises”, President Akufo-Addo announced in his address to the nation.

He then went further to declare a two-week restriction of movements in Greater Accra Region, Tema, Greater Kumasi and Kasoa.

To quote the President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde, “extraordinary times require extraordinary action”, one can only applaud President Akufo-Addo for taking such bold measures to protect the citizenry from the coronavirus while also ensuring that businesses survive in the wake of the virus.

Ghana recorded its first two cases of the novel coronavirus on March 12, 2020. Since then, the country has never been the same.

Most businesses operating in the restricted areas have shut down, leaving only those classified as rendering essential services to operate albeit with low patronage. The local economy is virtually dead.

Even though it will be too early to start counting our losses, one could vividly see the effect of the coronavirus on media houses.

The practice of containment measures such as social distancing has resulted in a lot of media houses cutting down staff and rotating the few that have been asked to report to work.

Advertising has sharply dropped since businesses are adopting cost-cutting measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19.

Events and promotions account for a chunk of revenue to many media houses. However, COVID-19 has shut the doors to all out-door events. One can only mention a few of the impact of COVID-19 on media houses.

Despite these challenges, media houses have lived up to expectation, especially, regarding coverage of COVID-19.

One can say that about 85% of the media’s coverage has centered on COVID-19 – thus providing coverage for government programs on the pragmatic measures it is putting in place to combat the spread of the virus; educating the citizenry on how to keep safe in the wake of COVID-19, among many others.

Although details of the GH₵1billion stimulus package announced by the President to help households and small and medium scale enterprises are not yet known, it is important for government to factor in media houses in order to meet them half-way.

This piece of article therefore, seeks to suggest to government to consider:
1. Waiving the cost of renewing frequency authorization at least for one year.
2. Pay the cost of electricity bill covering a period of six months.
3. Pay the cost of water bill covering a period of six months.
4. Cut down their tax returns at least 70%.

These, together with some others, that may be considered by the government will help sustain media houses to be in business considering the fact that the local economy may take at least two years to recover from the impact of the coronavirus as espoused by the Chairman of the Finance Committ

Fake Doctor injects gold dealer to death | Ghana News Hub.

http://ghananewshub.com/video-watch-irene-naa-torshie-speaks-tough-on-ghanas-energy-crisis-during-the-won-gbo-demo/.

VLTC FerriesTHE HEALTH status of the Volta Lake Transport Company (VLTC) is in shambles, as liquidity challenges continue to stare in the face of the once viable company.

The workers have expressed the fear that the company may soon fold up if immediate steps are not taken to revamp its operations.

Key equipment and machinery that help to generate funds for the upkeep of the company are in a deplorable state. Apart from the dilapidating nature of the two pusher tugs – MV Volta Queen and Buipe Queen – the story is not different with the ferries operated by the company. A thorough assessment on the ferries has revealed that the MV Ndewura Jakpa and Nana Bessemua are semi-functional, as each operates on only one engine, instead of two, making the journey on such ferries very dangerous.

That of the MV Yapei Queen has rusty rail guards, posing a danger to the crew and passengers. The metal floor of the passenger lavatory is also rusty, whilst the glass in the window of the third cabin is broken and exposing passengers to the vagaries of the weather. The compartment for firefighting hoses and materials was empty, with one of the engines of the vessel also malfunctioning.

The Yapei Queen, which plies the Volta Lake from Akosombo to Yeji every Monday, also operates with only one steering instead of two, with its radar system broken down. The faulty engines of the three ferries have also affected the time which they use to make their journeys from one community to the other. For instance, a journey from Yeji to Makango that a ferry with two engines makes in 45 minutes now takes two hours.

So, instead of the ferry making four trips per day, it is now doing two trips, with lots of difficulties. One of the crew members, who did not want his name mentioned for fear of victimization, said the ferries were no more attractive to passengers due to their present conditions. The situation, he noted, had hugely affected revenue inflow, but failed to give some details as how much the MV Yapei Queen makes per trip from Akosombo to Yeji, and vice versa.

The ferry-crossing service was set up by the VLTC to provide safe, efficient, and reliable ferry services at Yeji (Brong-Ahafo), Kete-Krachi and Dambai, both in the Volta Region, and Adawaso in the Afram Plains. The ferries serve as bridges where the lake has cut across the road network. Without these services, communities around the ferry stations will be cut off from the rest of the country. Both passengers and cargo are transported from the stations.

“We pride ourselves as providing safe, efficient and reliable ferry services, but my brother, those days are gone. Our ferries are no more efficient and reliable, and they keep on breaking down. Our lives, including that of passengers, are always on the line when making a journey from one point to the other. Management knows the problems, but we don’t know why they are not addressing them. Maybe, they don’t think about our safety and that of passengers who use our services,” argued the crew member.

The situation, The Chronicle learnt, has existed for two years, with management showing little concern in giving the company a facelift. The Managing Director of the VLTC, Eric Kweku Yarboi, when contacted on the issue, acknowledged the numerous problems confronting the company, but noted that lack of funds had made things difficult in addressing them.

He said the company had received some engines from the World Bank, but had no money to contract engineers to fix them. Asked whether revenue generated internally was not enough to pay for such services, he answered in the negative, noting that ferry services the world over was not a profit venture.

Read the rest of this entry »

DCEAS THE government spends millions of cedis planting trees to protect the environment, the Aburi Botanical Gardens has rather come under serious threat, especially, its forest reserve, following the Akuapem South District Assembly’s decision to develop 23 acres of the land into an Assembly complex. Read the rest of this entry »

Minister of Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang

Minister of Education, Prof. Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang

The Government of Ghana has decided to give back the numerous mission schools scattered across the country to its original owners citing lack of proper supervision, moral decadence and lack of proper supervision as its reasons.

A performance review by the government in the educational sector, especially the basic and high schools, has provoked the State to reconsider giving back the mission schools to its original owners. Read the rest of this entry »