Businesses operating in the fisheries sub-sector have been selected as beneficiaries of the GH¢600 million stimulus package meant to cushion micro small and medium enterprise (MSME) from the negative impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The fisheries industry had already been categorised under the agri and agri-business focus sector of the modalities developed for the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) Business Support Scheme by the National Board and Small Scale Enterprises (NBSSI).
"The other beneficiary sectors included healthcare and pharmaceutical, manufacturing, water and sanitation, tourism and hospitality, education, textiles and garments, commerce or trade, and service," the Executive Director of the NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey Ayeh, made this known to the Graphic Business at a meeting on May 14 in Accra.
The government in March announced a GH¢1.2 billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) as part of enhanced measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on households, contain disruption to economic activities and to rescue and revitalise industries.
The CAP, which was subsequently approved by Parliament on April 9, dedicated GH¢600 million as soft loans for businesses, especially those in the MSMEs sector.
Towards that, Mrs Ayeh stated that the NBSSI had developed modalities for prospective beneficiaries to access the funds.
To benefit from the fund, she said an applicant (business) among other things was expected to show prove of its membership to a recognised association, trade group or registration with the NBSSI as part of the eligibility criteria.
She observed that NBSSI will partner with the various associations to monitor all funds disbursed.
"I will need the associations to help us (NBSSI) to provide monitoring and evaluation on the funds disbursed.
"The programme will be rolled out nationwide and targets businesses that are part of an association, trade group or NBSSI.
"This will help people to align with the associations in order to grow their membership base and make them stronger to get the needed support going forward," she added.
As part of the modalities, she said an applicant must show a verifiable evidence of business activities gravely impacted by COVID-19 pandemic.
"Potential and existing businesses with bankable plans or producing items to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic."
Also, she stated that an applicant must operate a registered business which fall under the MSME category, must have a tax identification number (TIN) and must operate a business with employees between one-99.
A Chief Fisherman at the Tema Canoe Basin (TCB), Nii Odamitey, said the development was a welcome news to the fishing industry, as most fisher folks within the lockdown communities lost their catch because buyers were prevented from moving to the various landing site.
He expressed the gratitude of himself and other fisher folks to the President for introduction of the fund.
He added that the industry needed such support to help them cope with the financial challenges that the novel coronavirus had imposed on their businesses.
Support from EU
Even before the introduction of the stimulus package, other local and international firms have been over the years been supporting the country's fisheries sector.
The European Union (EU) under the Far Ban Bo (FBB) project, a fisheries governance project has been supporting the country's fishing sector.
The FBB seeks to protect the livelihood of fishermen and to empower small holder fisheries associations to secure landing sites amongst other interventions.
It is implemented by the Friends of the Nation, CARE and Oxfam and designed to help address the challenges of overfishing and unsustainable fishing practices, including illegal, unreported and unprotected fishing, low compliance and weak capacity for law enforcement within the sector.