As the country battles the novel Coronavirus pandemic, there is a need to convert all Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE) taxes into Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber of Bulk Oil Distributors (CBOD), Senyo Hosi, has advocated.
Mr. Hosi is also calling for either a partial or complete lockdown of the country, and wants income taxes for the period of the crisis to be considered as CSR; and that these taxes should be used to provide relief for those affected by the deadly virus.
“The PAYE taxes paid by corporates over the period of the lockdown should be recognised as corporate social responsibility and the period not be considered a part of employee leave. It is time for all to shed some gains to save all,” he said.
The country, as at 2pm yesterday, has so far recorded 68 cases of the coronavirus and three deaths, according to the Ghana Health Service. But with preventive measures like social distancing and regular washing of hands under running water being privileges that only a few Ghanaians can afford, there are fears that the outbreak could be heightened if drastic actions are not taken.
“We failed to shut the tap on COVID-19 by not shutting our borders early,” Mr. Hosi lamented. “The COVID-tap is now running among the citizenry through community-spread, so we need to shut the COVID tap now. This means just one thing: lock Ghana down now! Whether in regions considered epicentres or nationwide, Ghana must be locked down now.”
Explaining why the president should take the bold decision of shutting down the country, he said the true character and measure of leaders is not established in happy moments but in challenging moments, when difficult decisions are made to steer the larger population to better times.
Mr. Hosi said this is the time for leadership, not electoral syllogism, adding: “Every day we fail to act escalates our situation, especially when we know we do not have adequate health infrastructure or resources to deal with the consequences. Will people suffer for it? Yes, but millions more will suffer more permanently if we do not lockdown now. Dear Mr. President, please lock Ghana down now before it locks us out! Ghana is its people and not just a geographic location,” he pleaded.
On how government should go about it should it decide to lockdown the country, he opined that Senior High Schools and university residential facilities could be used as social shelters to house the socially deprived and homeless. With such centralised locations established, he said, government will be better-placed to implement support interventions like food and water supplies.
He also called for centralised accommodation for essential officers: “Isolate all required essential officers and service providers in centralised locations like hotels and university student residences. This will better government’s capacity to facilitate support-logistics for their operations”.
There is also need to involve all religious bodies, whereby mosques and churches could be temporarily converted into social shelters to augment the school’s residential facilities, he said.
“Citizens expect government to set its priorities right; not chasing the luxury of a ‘new’ voters register over saving the lives of would-be voters. Cut budget provisions for such expenditure and allocate funding to the COVID-19 war with increased transparency in its spending. When citizens see honest commitment, the benevolence and humanity of Ghanaians and corporates will flow with much ease. It is time to rally the people to save mother Ghana.
“If we can find US$100million for a cathedral that God never lives in, then we should find support to sustain the needy in these difficult times,” he concluded.