It has been detected that applicants with fictitious data, documents, and personal details were among those who applied for the special fund, set up by the government to cushion small and medium scale businesses from the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Data from the National Board and Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) showed that 5,200 out of a total of 450,000 applicants presented fake documentations to benefit from the GH¢1 billion Coronavirus Alleviation Programme (CAP) business support scheme.
As a result, the NBSSI, together with the CAP Steering Committee, has extended the deadline for applications from June 20 to June 26, 2020, to enable it to address all fraud-related cases before the fund will be disbursed.
The Executive Director of NBSSI, Mrs Kosi Yankey-Ayeh, who made this known at a press conference in Accra last Friday, said some of the fraud cases detected had been forwarded to security agencies for investigations.
“The online portal developed to receive applications has detected more than 5,200 fraud alerts representing multiple applications with the same mobile money or bank account details.”
“For instance, we identified that one person registered for over 100 people in a community with the same documentation, mobile money contact or account number.
“And so what we did was to engage the services of KPMG, a tax consulting firm, to do data analysis of the applications to help make the right decisions,” she said.
Mrs Yankey-Ayeh further explained that the analysis would allow them to detect those using fictitious documentation such as fraudulent tax identification number (TIN), contact numbers, and same account numbers.
Mrs Yankey-Ayeh further explained that the extension of the deadline was as a result of varied concerns raised by some trade and business associations asking for more time to enable some of their members to submit their applications.
“We had to give all concerns carefully thought to arrive at the six-day extension. The grace period presents an opportunity to rectify complaints and errors of applicants with wrong credentials recorded on the digitalised application portal,” she said.
Other reasons included delayed applications due to challenges encountered in the acquisition of the TIN.
Mrs Yankey-Ayeh also said the extension was an opportunity to mop up paper applications (from cut-off communities and rural areas with no internet) for processing onto a digitised system.
As of June 18, 2020, the executive director said more than 450,000 applicants, representing micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), had registered for the fund; 75 percent of whom had successfully completed their applications.
Applicants who registered via mobile phones represented 58.8 percent while the remaining 41.2 percent did it directly on the web portal, she said.
Mrs Yankey-Ayeh said 66 percent of the applicants were females who requested 47 percent of the total value of funds, while the remaining 34 percent male applicants demanded 52.6 percent of the funds.
The executive director also said the NBSSI had intensified collaboration with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to facilitate TIN acquisition for applicants.
The CAP Business Support Scheme was instituted by the government to provide support to MSMEs negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Launched on May 19, 2020, by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, its implementation was fast-tracked to ensure that MSMEs, which are the backbone of the economy, access the fund in a timely manner.