A 50 million-dollar loan scheme to help to strengthen and boost the operation of micro and small-scale enterprises in the country takes off next month, President John Agyekum Kufuor has announced. He said Offices to oversee the efficient and transparent management of the Fund had been established in all the regions.
President Kufuor was speaking at the 13th Ghana Consultative Group/Annual Partnership Meeting at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) yesterday.
The meeting provided a forum for the Government and it's development partners to dialogue on how to move the nation's economy forward by prioritising Government's spending on areas that would make significant impact on the lives of the people. "Results and Resources: A Partnership for Shared Accelerated Growth" was the theme for the meeting.
President Kufuor said he was confident that the private sector of the country would within the next few months come up strongly when a giant international aluminium and bauxite company puts in a two-billion dollar investment in Ghana and the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project came on stream.
He said a shipping company would be establishing an off-shore container hub in Tema and all these would help to raise the capital stock by about 50 per cent. He said he had no doubt that the country could be hitting the eight per cent growth rate sooner than targeted.
President Kufuor, however, acknowledged that to get there, the issue of poor wages and salaries would have to be addressed, saying: "Motivation should rank tops, if we are to move at the pace we want to go."
He re-affirmed the Government's resolve to maintain fiscal discipline and avoid becoming complacent with the level of macro-economic stability achieved and said they would not go about borrowing indiscriminately.
Instead, they would cut back on taking loans both internally and internationally and that, even when they should go for money from the capital market it would only be for projects that would be self-financing.
President Kufuor, who identified a strong infrastructure base as critical for economic growth, appealed for a change in the method of disbursing funds by the multilateral institutions to remove delays.
He noted that the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank for example took about three years to disburse approved funds, something that led to undue delays in the implementation of projects.
Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, Finance and Economic Planning Minister, said taking into account the domestic fiscal efforts as well as grants, a resource gap of 2,035 million dollars remained. He, therefore, called on the development partners to substantially scale-up their support to take care of that.
The Finance and Economic Minister said for Ghana to achieve the twin goals of growth and poverty reduction, the economy would have to grow at a rate of 8.0 per cent per annum by 2008.
He noted that accelerated growth of the economy would result from continued macro-economic stability, increased infrastructure investment, a vibrant private sector and vigorous human resource development underpinned by deepening good governance and civic responsibility.
The development Partners, who hailed the economy as being on the right path, pledged continued support. They however, advised that the Government should maintain the fiscal discipline and ensure efficiency in the management of resources.
The development partners at the meeting included representatives of European Union; World Bank; Africa Development Bank and Ambassadors and High Commissioners from 8 countries.