Participants at a forum on the review of the investment law have called for the vesting of investment promotion in the hand of a single agency to replace the current system where different entities are engaged in the search to woo investors into the country.
They argued that the creation of various agencies with overlapping and sometimes divergent roles did not make the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) an effective instrument for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI).
The forum organised by the GIPC was to seek the views of stakeholders in the review of the investment law - Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act, 1994 (ACT 478) - to ensure that it met current trends. The meeting also discussed ways to move the agency from a regulatory body to a promotional one.
Mr Robert Ahomka Lindsey, Chief Executive of Eyeiporium, said efforts should be made to stop creating parallel agencies, which were counter-productive to the needs of the country.
He said to become an effective force the GIPC must vigorously attack the bureaucratic tendencies and the cumbersome procedures that made investors to spend long periods going through processes.
Mr Lindsey called for improved co-ordination among the various agencies such as the Registrar-General's Department, Customs, Excise and Preventive Service and those whose work impacted directly on the facilitation of investment, saying effective collaboration was necessary to instil investor confidence.
Mr Charles Koffie, Chief Executive of Unilever, said although the current law had very good ideas, implementation of the ideas were often left in the hand of other bodies whose inaction could impact negatively on the country's investment agenda. He called for deliberate efforts to encourage foreign investors to partner their local counterparts as a long-term means of skills transfer and growth in the local economy.
Mr Yoofi Grant, Executive Director Data Bank, said deliberate attempts must be made to align all laws that conflicted with the investment code.
Other concerns expressed were the non-enforcement of the law that limited participation in the retail trade sector to Ghanaians, leading to infiltration of foreigners into the sector. There were also calls to change the law to increase the capital a foreigner was required to invest saying the current 50,000 dollars was too little for any meaningful investment.
Mr Kwame Pianim, Chairman of the New World Investment Limited, said any investment law that did not take into account the contributions of indigenous investors was bound to fail. He said the review of the investment code must be fashioned in a way that met the aspirations of indigenous entrepreneurs and investors.
According to him, it was important to evolve an institutional framework that would enable the GIPC to facilitate the development of indigenous entrepreneurs to forge linkages with their foreign partners. He asked investors to focus on development by providing employment for the unemployed since they had the potential of moving the country forward.
Mrs Ruth Nyakotey, Acting Chief Executive, GIPC, noted that the survival of the Centre depended on how other agencies effectively collaborated with it in the implementation of its mandate. "The survival and effectiveness of any investment promotion agency depends on the extent to which the other institutions which have to cede part of their territories feel comfortable with the change," she said.