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Opinions of Friday, 28 August 2020

Columnist: Theodore Dzeble

Hospitality industry severely stressed by continued government neglect and insensitivity

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The National Hospitality Association of Ghana (NHAG) is unhappy with the government for abandoning the hospitality industry to its fate in spite of several promises by President Akufo Addo to support the industry to recover from the effects of the Coronavirus.

As a result of government neglect, many operators in the industry are shutting down their businesses while droves of employees continue to lose their jobs at an alarming rate as the economic repercussions of Covid19 continue to batter and strangle the industry.

Several months after government announced a 600 million cedi Coronavirus Alleviation Program Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS) for micro, small and medium scale businesses affected by the coronavirus, and an additional 9million dollar grant facility supposedly dedicated to reviving the Tourism and Hospitality sector, not even a single restaurant, eatery or hotel, has received support from the government initiative.

The National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) the state agency mandated by government to supervise the distribution of the 600 million cedis loan facility to affected businesses is not only overwhelmed by the number of applicants (which it was obviously unprepared for), but is fraught with creeping delays, logistical mayhem and a lack of feedback mechanism that only compounds the plight of frustrated applicants.

Whereas the industry is yet to receive any meaningful alleviation support to cushion its losses, our members continue to honor their tax, rent, utility and loan obligations to statutory state institutions promptly without respite. The business environment is quite harsh and inimical to the growth and development of the sector which employs thousands of Ghanaians, and is ranked as the fourth largest foreign exchange earner.

The National Hospitality Association of Ghana is therefore calling on government to create a more conducive business environment for the stability and growth of the sector by: reducing water and utility tariffs by 65%, providing moratorium on loans for at least 6 months, negotiating with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to supplement salary of employees by 50% for a 6 month period, reducing property rates and cutting down on import levy on food and drinks to enable the sector to bounce back.

Unlike a stimulus package which is quite discriminatory, the above measures are non-discriminatory, and have the capacity to stabilize the sector in addition to promoting business growth and empowering the industry.

The National Hospitality Association of Ghana (NHAG) is a union of over 60 mainline restaurants and eateries in the Accra, Tema and Koforidua metropolis. The group is dedicated to promoting innovation, business growth and development in the hospitality sector.