Thursday, 28 May 2020

Consider 'Household Financial Anxiety and Well-being' in Coronavirus impact assessment - Prof Gatsi

Video: Full Speech of Prof. John Gatsi at the 1st West Africa ...

 

 

Adnan Adams Mohammed

 

A seasoned economist has called on governmental agencies and international groups to consider assessing the impact of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on household financial anxiety and well-being as well.

 

 

During a recent E- Seminar organized by the University of Cape Coast School of Business in the College of Humanities and Legal Studies on the topic, Coronavirus Pandemic, Household Financial Anxiety and Well-being, Professor John Gatsi, the Dean of the School of Business at UCC in his introductory comment explained that, it was apt the topic for the discussion by renowned personalities in the acadmia on personal finance which also involves family finance, retirement finance, and household savings.

 

 

Since the outbreak of the pandemic many surveys and discussions about the effects of Coronavirus pandemic are focused on macro level issues such as fiscal policy, monetary police, general job losses and disruption in global supply chain without paying attention to broader financial issues affecting Households which has broader effect on individual anxiety and psychological problems and health challenges. According to the Professor in economics and finance, household anxiety is a function of the uncertainty of maintaining one’s job, income stream and support from external sources such as government social protection schemes.

 

 

“Issues of financial therapy and financial literacy are critical at a time when the pandemic has deepened vulnerability and inequality in many economies including Ghana”, Prof. Gatsi indicated, emphasizing that, less attention to personal financial education has led to little or no savings and investments by households to fall on during the pandemic.

 

 

However, Prof. Gatsi suggested that, in the absence of elaborate formal savings, the development of financial products to improve access to credits could help. Lamenting that, formal savings by households in Ghana as presented by the Statistical Service since 2014 was 35% and the situation has not changed significantly.

 

 

He advised government to look at data as an asset and invest in general data for development because post- economic management demands data driven policies and advocated for conservative investments and conservative expenditures by households.

 

“The good lesson about the pandemic is that Ghanaians are naturally creative and innovative inclusive empowerment is required to promote enhanced Ghanaian participation in the economy. He said if in the midst of the pandemic we are able to set aside Ghc600 million, it means we have what it takes to revisit strategies to support creativity”, Prof. Gatsi said.

 

 

The UCC E-Seminar featured Dr. Megan  McCoy , a professor of practice in the area of financial therapy,  from Kansas State University, Mr. Kwabena Gyan, an Economist with the World Bank, Accra and Dr. Anokye Mohammed Adam, the Head, department of Finance in the School of Business, UCC.

 

 

Dr. McCoy, in his presentation, explored the importance of financial therapy for households in times of difficulty to reduce stress and other psychological challenges. When people are not sure of maintaining their jobs due to the pandemic, they show instability and fear always. She advised that financial therapy during the Coronavirus pandemic should not be overlooked. She advocated for personal finance principles should be part of training for children and adults alike.  Dr. Pledge her support to help the department of finance develop solution oriented financial therapy programs to benefit students and the catchment areas of the University of Cape Coast. She said personal finance and financial therapy should be as practical as possible to serve as a clinic for households to seek advice, guidance and plans towards expenditure containment measures.

 

On his part, Dr Adam discussed the importance of planning and spending on only important things because one cannot tell when the pandemic will be over. He promised to propose personal finance as part of the basket of courses to engage students. He advised government to allow small businesses to register free as an incentive. Dr. advised that households should pursue savings as a religious duty to protect the future needs just as they pay tithes and offering in Church. He further advised that households should be open to financial planning principles because their many people irrespective of their level of education are financially ill and need financial clinic. He advised government to use its support schemes to further generate data from households and micro and small businesses arguing that technology alone is not enough to formalize the informal sector. Dr. Adam appeal to all to take financial anxiety and wellbeing issues serious because the effects of the pandemic at the macro level will definitely translate to household levels.

 

Mr Gyan explained that the World Bank has supported the government of Ghana with $100million as credit facility to fight Coronavirus pandemic geared toward households and small businesses. He said the bank has worked at policy levels with government in the financial sector interventions. He explained that the bank cannot control government in the way it manages Coronavirus Alleviation Program and hope that the disbursement of the funds will not discriminate against qualified businesses. He further stated that the World Bank only controls fully direct interventions which are not in the hands of government. Mr Gyan assured the public that the bank has experience in reducing household poverty and will continue to support Ghana. He asked for improve data collection to better develop programs that will solve household problems.

 

 

 


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