According to the Finance Minister, the government of Ghana is taking many pragmatic steps to make life relatively bearable, as far as the fight against the Coronavirus pandemic is concerned.
Apart from providing reliefs in the form of absorption of household utility bills, that is electricity and water, the Finance Minister revealed that government has taken another step to reduce the cost of the most used items and services currently.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta, addressing Members of Parliament on March 30, 2020, indicated that government is engaging telecommunication companies to reduce the cost of data and services for households and small-scale businesses.
“Mr Speaker, following consultation by the Minister for Finance with key stakeholders, in discussion with Cabinet and the directives of His Excellency, the President, the following additional measures are being pursued to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic:
(G) Engaging the Telcos to reduce the cost of data and telecommunication services to households and small businesses,” Ken Ofori-Atta told the House.
Before this new developments came to being there had been several calls from the public as well as certain stakeholders for telecommunication giants to reduce the cost of data because a majority of the working population have been forced to work from home.
The adoption of online lectures and examinations by some tertiary institutions in the country were the other reasons also cited.
Former President John Mahama also urged the government to arrive at some agreement with the telecom companies which would result in the cutting of the cost of internet during the COVID-19 crisis.
“At this point, the government has not yet addressed the need to negotiate with the telcos for a reduction in their tariffs to benefit the millions spending longer hours online and making calls”, he said.
“As I speak, several students and pupils are having lectures and school sessions online because of the Coronavirus disease.
“This has drastically increased their expenditure on internet usage to the extent that some can no longer cope. Indeed, there have been reports of several students who are unable to complete online lectures before their ‘data’ run out. Several people are also working from home.
“Due to these pressing needs, I wish to bring the issue of cost of internet and voice services back as another priority policy agenda.
“I have already suggested that the government can assure the telcos of a free six-month extension of licences – some of which are to expire very soon. This value can be applied to cushion consumers during this 3-month period”, Mr Mahama noted.