Covid-19 Media Alleviation Fund: Equitable distribution of national resources must override self-interest

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Precisely a month in the past, I wrote an article with the headline “The Media deserve a stimulus bundle” the place I advocated the necessity for the federal government to help all media homes within the nation with some reduction gadgets contemplating the big position they’re taking part in within the battle towards the unfold of the novel coronavirus. I, amongst different issues, proposed to the federal government to think about the next: Waving the price of renewing frequency authorization no less than for one 12 months.

  • Pay the price of electrical energy invoice overlaying a interval of six months.
  • Pay the price of water invoice overlaying a interval of six months.
  • Minimize down their tax returns no less than 70%.

My proposal was premised on the ¢1 billion stimulus bundle beneath a Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) introduced by the President, Nana Akufo-Addo, on March 27, 2020. The quantity is to mitigate the affect of the coronavirus on companies and households and guarantee job losses are minimized.

My name for a stimulus bundle for the media was re-echoed by the Ghana Journalists Affiliation, Ghana Unbiased Broadcasters Affiliation (GIBA), Affiliation of Girls within the Media (ASWIM), and the Non-public Newspaper Publishers Affiliation of Ghana (PRINPAG) at a joint press convention held on the Accra Worldwide Press Middle on April 8, 2020.

On the occasion, three issues stood out among the many proposals introduced by the group for presidency’s consideration. They embody:

  • provision of Private Protecting Tools (PPE),
  • transport for journalists by means of Ayalolo buses or different means, and
  • the organising of a COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund in keeping with what has been established on the COVID-19 Nationwide Belief Fund.

The topmost precedence among the many three gadgets was the proposal for the institution of a COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund which was championed by the President of PRINPAG, Andrew Edwin Arthur.

This COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund, in accordance with Mr. Arthur, must be managed by an unbiased physique that will obtain proposals and vet them and resolve on which assist is acceptable for a person organisation.

He stated the identical physique ought to institute insurance coverage packages out of the fund to assist media professionals. “PRINPAG believes that these would go an extended solution to embolden Ghana’s media”, he famous.

A lot as I assist the institution of the COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund which if carried out will present some reduction gadgets to assist media homes, I don’t subscribe to the organising of an unbiased physique to handle the fund. I say so as a result of the disbursement of the Media Growth Fund that was arrange President John Evans Atta-Mills of blessed reminiscence is a case examine to information all of us.

The Fund was geared toward coaching and constructing the capability of media practitioners to ship higher outcomes when it comes to prosecuting their varied mandates for the event of the nation. Nevertheless, up to now, no correct accountability has been rendered as to how the Fund was utilized.

In January 2015, then Dean of the Parliamentary Press Corps (PPC), Mr. Andrew Edwin Arthur who’s now the President of PRINPAG, demanded the the place about of the Fund when he delivered an handle on the finish of 12 months celebration for the Corps.

“It’s regrettable that such a laudable initiative has been abused by those that have been anticipated to deal with it, and I consider it is not going to be an excessive amount of to name on the managers of the Fund to come back out and let the Ghanaian media know the present state of the Fund”, he famous in his handle.

It’s on report that some monies have been launched to the then Ministry of Info because the Media Growth Fund, it nonetheless stays a incontrovertible fact that no correct accountability has been rendered.

I consider strongly that it was primarily based on this state of affairs that the President of PRINPAG referred to as for an unbiased physique to handle the COVID-19 Media Alleviation Fund.

No matter it’s, the actual fact nonetheless stays {that a} physique was mandated to handle the Fund however failed in its mandate. Subsequently, the aim of creating the Fund was not realised. For the reason that outbreak of the Coronavirus which has thus far media homes in Ghana haven’t been spared the brunt of this virus.

The follow of containment measures reminiscent of social distancing has resulted in numerous media homes informing a few of their employees to both proceed on depart or work at home whereas rotating the few which have been requested to report back to work.

Some media homes have even gone to the extent of mutually terminating the employment contract they’ve with a few of their employees. It is a measure to chop down value whereas sustaining the enterprise. Promoting has sharply dropped since companies are adopting cost-cutting measures to mitigate the affect of COVID-19.

Occasions and promotions account for a bit of income to many media homes. Nevertheless, COVID-19 has shut the doorways to all out-door occasions. Among the non-public print media homes are even struggling to provide both on every day or bi-weekly foundation.

Manufacturing value is weighing closely on the media homes. Nevertheless, despite these challenges, the media homes have lived as much as expectation, particularly, concerning protection of COVID-19.

I’ll, subsequently, suggest that the stimulus bundle being thought-about by the federal government for media homes should embody the next to make sure equity or equitable distribution of state assets:

  • Waiver of electrical energy payments for all media homes from March to December 2020.
  • Waiver of all water payments for all media homes from March to December 2020.
  • Waiver of value in renewing frequency license for the 12 months 2021.
  • All non-public newspapers must be directed to have their schedules mentioned with the state-owned newspaper organizations which have printing press (Graphic Communications, Ghanaian Occasions) and if attainable Day by day Information (Non-public) for his or her newspapers to be printed. The associated fee should be absorbed by the federal government from the interval their schedule was accredited to December 2020.
  • Moreover, all media homes that can require the injection of some liquidity into their operations must be made to entry a mortgage facility from a chosen state-owned financial institution at zero % rate of interest which is payable inside 5 years.

By so doing, media homes might retain majority of their employees if not all, thereby, stopping large job losses within the business.

A effectively thought out plan for the implementation of the aforementioned proposals will keep away from bickering amongst people who might be disadvantaged of those reduction gadgets and the federal government may have its peace of thoughts.

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The writer of this text, Stephen Odoi-Larbi is a member of the Parliamentary Press Corps.

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