The National Hospitality Association of Ghana (NHAG) appeals to the President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to consider re-opening the restaurants for business as a matter of utmost urgency.
Considering the fact that the sector has borne the brunt of efforts by the government to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the country, it is critical that business confidence in the sector is restored now rather than later when much more harm would have been done.
The Association is unhappy with recent developments in the sector particularly the re-closure of the restaurants and hotels by the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Mrs. Barbara Oteng-Gyasi barely hours after the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) had issued operational guidelines regulating the official reopening of these facilities.
While we support and even commend the government for the bold and progressive steps it has taken to safeguard the health, wellbeing, and security of every Ghanaian in the fight against the coronavirus, these actions directly impact negatively on the hospitality industry perhaps more than any other sector of our economy, and serious considerations, exemptions, and financial support would be required urgently to revamp the industry.
We, therefore, call on the government to freeze existing levies and taxes on the industry for the period. In addition, we are calling on the government to subsidize utility tariffs by 65%, reduce import duty on food and drinks, and arrange with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to pay 50 percent of the salaries of our staff, majority of whom have been rendered jobless as a result of the shutdown. We are also calling on the government to back its promise of facilitating a 6-month moratorium on bank loans with concrete action and promote commercial rent suspension by landlords within the period of the inactivity to lessen the burden on proprietors.
The NHAG believes that reopening the restaurants subject to strict adherence to safety protocols announced by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA) will help curb the spread of the virus in our facilities and begin the long process of restoring the sector to recovery. Our members are trained professionals able to strictly adhere to the standard protocols of hand washing, sanitizing, social distancing, and masking to effectively combat the spread of the disease within our premises.
We are therefore calling on the President to urgently consider reopening the restaurants even if partially, to protect and safeguard the jobs of thousands of Ghanaians.