The UK High Commissioner to Ghana Iain Walker has noted that a targeted stimulus program for businesses and the deployment of Covid-19 vaccines can help in the quick recovery of Ghana’s economy.

According to him, current data from some countries have shown, they have been able to slow the Covid-19  spread and hospitalization due to an effective vaccination programme.

Mr Walker believes that could also happen to Ghana which could lead to the opening up of some sectors of the economy that has seen some restrictions. 

Mr. Walker expressed these thoughts when he appeared on PM Express Business Edition with host George Wiafe.

He added this can be completed with a targeted stimulus programme for businesses, a move that can help in the quick recovery of Ghana’s economy.

“Once we see the numbers coming down, then we can look at other options in terms of re-opening of economy,” he said.

Ghana’s Economy and Covid-19

Covid-19 has hit hard at Ghana’s economy, resulting in a contraction of the economy for the first time in several years.

According to the 2021 Budget, total revenue was revised downwards by some GH¢13 billion, while expenditure was revised upwards by  GH¢11.7 billion. In this regard, the Government is planning to also roll out a GH¢100 billion Ghana Cares programme to help in the recovery of the economy.

This programme will foster closer collaboration with the Ghanaian private sector, labour, the people, our development partners and foreign investors.

But Mr Walker says some of these proposals together with the government’s own programme could help in fast-tracking the recovery of the economy.  

“We should remember that there are trade-off that countries need to make in terms of a mix stimulus and the vaccine deployment in these times,” he said.

The UK government and COVID-19 Vaccines

Mr Walker also revealed that UK is working with other countries under the UN-backed COVAX  to supply Ghana with about 6 million doses of COVID-19 Vaccines by the end of this year. 

This is expected to complement about  600,000 that has been advanced to the country already. 

The UK government has helped raise $1 billion for the coronavirus COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) through match-funding other donors, which combined with the 548 million pounds.

The UK Aid pledged will help distribute one billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to 92 developing countries this year, which includes Ghana.

Ghana-UK Trade relations

The High Commissioner noted that “well we cannot describe the Ghana-UK relation as that bad, but could be better going forward”.

“But I believe that things have changed for the better, especially coming on the back of BREXIT, but I am optimistic about the future in terms of our further and strengthen economic tie,” he added.

On the recent negotiations with Trade Agreement, Mr Walker noted that delay in reaching a trade agreement often takes a long time, and delay should be put in that context, rather than signs of a deteriorating partnership between the two countries.

On March 2, 2020, UK and Ghana signed a deal that supports a trading relationship worth £1.2bn and reinstates the terms of the economic partnership agreement between the two sides when the UK was part of the EU.

It means Ghanaian products including bananas, tinned tuna and cocoa will benefit from tariff-free access to the United Kingdom.

UK exports are also in line to benefit from tariff liberalisation from 2023, including machinery and electronics.

Mr Walker described the deal as one of the best in recent times that will go a long way to protect millions of jobs in these times of COVID-19, which has dealt some big blow to many enterprises.

“For instance, the UK buys about 200 million tones of banana every year from Ghana, and you know what that means for the whole value chain in Ghana.”

He noted that “We should not take anything away from Ghana, because there has been tremendous development over the years that will make the Ghana-UK relationship more of mutual one.”

The High Commissioner was of the view that things can be better going forward.

COVID -19 and Work from home

The High Commissioner noted that the benefit has been mixed in terms of what it has brought to many people working around the world.  

He however noted that the challenge has been the social life being disrupted, but “I think is all about adapting to the situation” even though now we cannot connect to people any more. 

“You also not believe it, but i have had such a busy schedule like this before, in terms of stuff that I have been able to do by depending on technology and countries working today” He added.

The High Commissioner added that 2020 has been an interesting year, “but you will not believe, the volume of work that I have been able  to undertake during  the year under review.”

“I however believe that Covid-19 has opened our minds to a lot of opportunities” the High Commissioner added.  

Iain Walker ends duty tour to Ghana

Iain Walker is expected to bring his duty tour to end by June this year, after four years of service.

A duty tour saw him undertake a lot of initiatives to strengthen the political and trade ties between the two countries.

 But according to Iain, one that will leave a lasting memory is the entrepreneurial spirit of Ghanaians, which he believes needs to be celebrated.

“I will definitely describe Ghana as one of the great countries that have worked in and I will always remember this place,” he added.