The members of NHAG said this call is coming because of the effect of the novel coronavirus on their business.

Their call is coming days after former president John Mahama suggested a similar strategy. He suggested that SSNIT gives its contributors a three-month token during the COVID-19 period. However, SSNIT said this is against the SSNIT Pension Law.

But the NHAG says the closing borders long before the partial lockdown in some parts of the country slowed down their business considerably. The ban on social gatherings has also done some harm.

In a statement, the association said “Business activity in the sector has since deteriorated, with the prospects of recovery becoming even more remote each week. Many restaurants and eateries are currently operating between 5 to 10 percent of their total capacity. Indeed, some of our members have reported no business at all during this period, forcing them to more or less close down their business.”

The Association further stated that even though President Akufo-Addo has announced measures to support the sector (the proposal to inject GHS3 billion and a six-month moratorium of loan repayments to the banks,) they are not being immediately implemented.

“Indeed, our members report that some of the banks have not heeded the President’s directive at all, and even with the few who are willing to do so, fewer still are prepared to go the full six-month period,” the statement said.

The NHAG is, therefore, appealing to the government for the following reliefs:

• Negotiate with the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to pay 50% salary of employees over a period of six months

• Suspend rental charges for commercial tenants for at least 6 months

• Suspend the Tourism Levy of 1% and use current reserves to aid restaurants and eateries

• Reduce property rates by 50%

• Suspend all charges, including VAT and related taxes until further notice

• Suspend Union annual salary increment requests

• Mitigate import duties on Food and Non-Food Products

The Association said it is hopeful that these measures will give them some respite and prevent their businesses from collapsing.