………Positive change and Golden age of Business.
Ghana to receive 281.2 billion cedis from Denmark. The Danish government is to make available an amount of 37 million dollars to support Ghana’s private sector program and projects this year. An important plan for the sector is the development of a Business sector support program, which would focus on the legal regulatory framework, including possible support for commercial courts, the business sector advocacy support to associations and improved access to international markets. Other areas to receive support include health, water and sanitation, transportation and energy. Denmark, Ghana signs 140 billion cedis loan agreement, the phase 2 of the water sector program support project- A confirmation of the government commitment to provide clear, affordable and accessible water supply for throughout the country. It is a further confirmation of government’s development strategy for the water sector aimed at increasing focus on decentralization structures and emphasizing on the private sector participation. Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Trade and Industry has declared the Kufuor administration’s commitment to providing financial support for growth of the private sector. He disclosed that his Ministry had granted a total of $500,000 for the expansion of businesses this year. The purpose of this is to make Ghanaian businesses competitive. Mr. Apraku announced that the government was sourcing a $100 million loan from the African Development Bank for the rehabilitation of industries. A bill being considered: Government Initiates Loans Guarantee Bill. Cabinet is considering a bill which if approved, will enable government to guarantee loans sourced by the private sector, especially from foreign banks known as the Government Loan Guarantee Scheme. The guarantee, if provided by the government will serve as a hedge against loans risk. The loans will be available to all entrepreneurs in the country………I am not a business man neither have I studied any of the business courses, but I endorse this bill and say that it is an excellent one. In a free market economy, it is not the government which create jobs, it is the private sector. The government merely creates favorably conditions for the private sector to flourish and this is exactly what the NPP government is up to. Government sets up Investor’s Advisory Council. The council is an informal advisory group which is made up of top-level corporate executives who would have the duty to increase understanding between government and institutions driving investments. A statement issued said that the council would include a 26- member group. The council will be an ongoing process with two-year commitments of participation from members, who will convene once or twice every year. Investors’ council identifies 18 areas affecting investments in the country for action by November this year. Some of the areas are (1) Land regulatory reforms (2) Mining and labour law and safety and security (3) Infrastructure especially energy (4) Telecommunications (5) Information Technology (6) Financial services (7) Public sector sensitivity to the private sector (8) Restoring the mining sector to be competitive (9) Re-orienting the economy from commodity and aid-dependency to a more diversified one (10) Promotion of partnership between government, private sector, industry and labour………………….. One hundred US Investors to visit Ashanti--- About 100 investors from Detroit in the United States would arrive in Kumasi in August to explore investment opportunities in the Ashanti Region. Mr. Maxwell Kofi Jumah, Kumasi Metropolitan Chief Executive has said. Forum on economy opens in Kumasi---- An economic forum to maximise Ashanti region’s contribution to national economic development took off in Kumasi……………. The forum attracted policy makers, implement agencies, members of trade and industry associations, selected diplomatic missions, donor agencies, NGO’s and the representatives of Asantes in the Diaspora. The forum will also provide opportunities for participants to interact with business experts from the public and private sectors as well as the country’s top banker’s and financial services providers…………….. Mr. Kwasi Abeasi, Chief Executive of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center talked about the Investment framework and policy options for non-mining sector…………. The forum also talked about Agriculture, timber, manufacturing, mining, tourism, small-scale industries, development and the environment. Crusade for local rice----- Mr. Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Private Sector Development has urged Ghanaians to make the patronage of locally produced goods a personal crusade to support the government’s efforts to reduce the level of import-based consumption, in an official launching of three locally produce rice. The brands----- Goldstar, Silverline and Omu-tuo produced by the Kpong Irrigation Projects. Each of the brands is bagged in 25 kilograms. The showroom prices are 85,000 cedis for Goldstar, 75,000 for Omu-tuo and 80,000 cedis for Silver. The Agriculture Minster hopes to reduce the importation of rice by 30% in 2004. Note that the country imports about $100 million rice annually. Major Quashiga well done. The rice are distributed by IMEXCO Ghana Limited, a rice and grains distribution company. JOBS, JOBS, JOBS! Moves to improve Rice Milling: The Deputy Minister for Food and Agriculture, Dr. Majeeb Haroun, says the major problem facing the local rice industry is poor milling. He said under Japan’s South-South Cooperation support program, a rice milling expert from Egypt will be coming in to help improve the quality of milled rice. He said a program is being drawn up to fully utilize the world-class rice mill at Averyime………. It will include providing enough funds to cultivate more than 2000 acres at Averyime twice this year as well as encouraging rice farmers at Afife, Kpong, Dawenya…………. E. Monkarzel, Director of Continental Commodities Trading Company, said that in developing economy such as Ghana, agriculture will remain the primary activity that will trigger growth and development. The rice industry is yet to experience the desired growth. The Deputy Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr. Majeed Haroun has challenged the world Bank country Director, Peter Harold, over his comments that Ghana is not competitive in the production of rice. A 10 day skill training workshop on improved method of processing locally produced rice has been organised for 25 women at Jakarayili, a suburb of Tamale. The workshop was organized by the Regional Technology Transfer Center and GRATIS Tamale……………. At the end of the training the women were given 5 million cedis as a seed capital to work as a group……………… This is job creation. It means JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! Bad financial management killing Golden Age of Business: Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku have said that the poor planning and bad financial management by most local business was having a crippling effect on the government’s Golden Age of Business dream. He said the situation where people acquire government and private loans and acquire a house or car instead of putting the money into the business must be stopped. The National Board for Small-Scale Industries: About 34 people have been trained to manage 25 newly established Business Advisory Center in the districts of nine regions. NBSSI will help small-scale business to understand the mechanisms of business. Their goal,……… to work with the local communities to identify products that qualify under the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and help them into it with proper planning mechanisms………………… Ghana receives certificate to export textiles to US. Mr. Walter H. Kansteiner III, US Assistant secretary of State for African Affairs, said Ghana’s certification to export textiles to the US under the African Growth opportunity Act (AGOA) marked the beginning of the bond of lucrative relationship between both countries in the sector. Under AGOA, 35 African countries, including Ghana, could enjoy duty-free and quota-free trade status on virtually all exports to the US. In the case of textiles, each country must undergo an additional certification process to guarantee that the textile were made in Africa……….. This means opportunity for JOB creation. JOBS! JOBS! JOBS! Trade Minister and High Commissioner visit Ghanaian firms in UK: The Minister of Trade, Hon. Dr. Kofi Konadu Apraku and Ghana’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Mr. Isaac Osei, have visited 26 Ghanaian-owned Enterprises in the UK. The visit forms part of the missions’ outreach program which is aimed at forging and maintaining close collaboration with the Ghanaian community in the UK to invest some of their profits in Ghana. Some of the companies visited are, Cut and Paste Design and Marketing Agency, E. K. and Emmanuel Hair Dressing Sallons, Uncle John’s Bakery, Black Star Records, Sam’s Carpet………………… Dr. konadu Apraku said that now that the economy had been stabilized, the government was giving the private sector the necessary support for its development in order to realize the objectives of the “Golden Age of Business”. Take advantage of favorably business climate in Ghana: This was the theme of an address delivered by Mr. Isaac Osei, the Ghana’s High Commissioner in UK during a one-day working visit to Merseyside centered on the need for British Investors to take advantage of the favorably investment climate and opportunities in Ghana. Mr. Osei said “The government under the leadership of His Excellency president J. A Kufuor is business friendly and will continue to create the environment for the private sector in order to accelerate their operations and increase productivity”. Ghana will push ahead with economic reform: The deputy High commissioner in the UK (Mr. Baah-Duodu), has said the government of Ghana is determined to push through its economic reforms with the continued support and co-operation of its development partners. He said the stage is now set for the consolidation of the initial gains of the restructuring process which had resulted in macro-economic stability and provided the required frame work for sustained development after the modest success achieved last year. How is the money coming in? Ghana receives debt relief boost. The African development Bank has said it will write off four fifths of the money owed to it by Ghana. The $131 million debt cancellation came less than a week after a visit to the country by the Managing Director of the International Money Fund (IMF), Horst Koehler:- The African Development Bank said Ghana was eligible for debt relief under an IMF and World Bank Scheme for the so-called Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC)...………. Ghana will be relieved of 80% of its obligation on the annual servicing of its debt to the ADB group. Ghana granted 3.5 billion dollars debt relief. The International monetary Fund and the World Bank have provided Ghana with a debt relief of 3.5 billion dollars under the enhanced HIPC initiative. The funds are to be channeled into education, health and agriculture. The managing Director of the IMF, Mr. Horst Kohler commended the Ghanaian government for the impressive turn around in economic performances over the past year, adding that by bringing the budget deficit and money creation under control, the government has put an end to severe foreign exchange shortages, rapid currency depreciation and surging inflation. President kufuor appeals for more IMF assistance: He appealed to the IMF to continue its assistance to Ghana and that his government was determined to accelerate economic growth. IMF Supports Ghana’s Request for $55 million to meet her external financing requirement for this year. Ghana’s total external financing requirement for this year amounts to about $1.1 billion. Identified donor support including that from the World Bank is about $650 million from which about $135 million is expected from the IMF and $250 million from debt relief. $3.7 Billion HIPC Debt-Reduction Package Approved: The IMF and the World Bank have agreed to support a US $3.7 billion debt reduction package for Ghana, under the enhanced HIPC initiative. Ghana Promised $1Billion: Ghana’s development partners have agreed to assist the government with one billion dollars to close the overall financing gap for the 2002 fiscal year. The World Bank country Director for Ghana, Mr. Peter Harold said although the NPP inherited a very bad macroeconomic situation it had succeeded in stabilizing the economy and reducing inflation. Paris Club cancels Ghana’s Debt: The Paris Club of creditor Nations has cancelled 90 million dollars of Ghana’s debt following negotiations for relief under the HIPC. In addition, Ghana will save 160 million dollars on debt servicing for this year alone and would also save more if it is able to sign bi-lateral agreements with the G8 members, who have promised to grant a 100% relief when Ghana reaches the completion point of the initiative. “Corruption led us to HIPC”--- Former MP: Corruption and bribery has led Ghana into the HIPC initiative. Mrs. Stella Ankomah Boakye Boateng, former member of parliament for Mpohor Wassa East in the Western Region, boldly told the parliamentary privileges committee. Ghana’s economy too dependent on donor support: Panelist at a public forum in Accra, have observed that Ghana’s economy is too dependent on foreign donor support. Need to correct Misconception About HIPC. The mind set of a large section of the nation seems to have been prejudiced unfairly about the effects that Ghana opting for the HIPC initiative will have on her economy. In fact most people think that the government's move is a folly. The HIPC will not make Ghana poorer but could actually enhance our development. The Hon. Kwame Owusu Frimpong (MP), touching on the economy said, the HIPC has been beneficial as the nation has had some of her debt cancelled. Donors Are Not Releasing Loans ----- Osaafo Maafo. The Minister of Finance, has observed that delays by donor partners in releasing loans which have already been agreed upon impact adversely on the implementation of government policies, programs and projects, particularly those in the area of poverty reduction. Ghana still pays interest on some loans: Yaw Osaafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance have explained in parliament that although Ghana has joined the HIPC initiative, the country still pays interest on some debts. Government laid solid economic foundation----- Pepera: A member of the Investors’ Advisory Council, Mr. Paul Pepera, has said the government has laid a solid foundation for economic take-off but the 12 months will be critical on how the kufuor administration builds on the foundation. He said there has been macro-economic environment stability, which is good tonic for the economy, but there is more to be done, saying the uncertainty which marked the economy in the past, is no longer around and there could be sound planning. Reducing poverty: Ghana to reduce poverty by 2015 ----- Nduom. Minister for Economic Planning and Regional Co-operation, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, claims Ghana would reduce by half her estimated 40% population that lived on less than a dollar a day by the year 2015. Government, UNDP signs Agreement. The Government and the United Nations Development program have signed a 15 million – dollar agreement for support in five program areas for the next four years. The areas are (1) consolidation of democratic governance (2) promotion of the activities of the private sector to create wealth and economic growth (3) poverty reduction and (4) addressing the issue of energy and the environment and to promote gender equality. $96 million for poverty alleviation: The government has allocated a total of $96 million from the enhanced HIPC initiative to finance projects under the Ghana poverty Reduction Strategy Program (GPRSP). Mr. Jumah KMA Boss, has said Poverty Alleviation Fund is meant for petty traders, common carriers (Kayakaya), small-scale shoemakers, ice water and ice kenkey sellers as well as small-scale business that have no access to big capital……….. Major Courage Quashigah(rtd), Minister of Food and Agriculture, has said that the situation in the country was not one of hopelessness but that it looked like people had abandoned the country and instead were depending on the importation of everything and gave the assurance that the NPP government was determine to remedy the situation. EU Provides 38 million Euro to Ghana: The European Union is providing a grant of 37.8 million to support Ghana’s on-going macro-economic and structural reforms. The main objective of the support is to assist the government in financing it poverty reduction strategy program (PRSP). Ghana to enjoy from $5 billion Gates Foundation: Ghana is to benefit from the Gate foundation, which has set aside a five billion dollars to assist poverty reduction in the developing world. Government to rescue Ghanaians from poverty: Mr. S. K. Boafo, Ashanti Regional Minister has said under the Corporate Village Enterprise Scheme, farmers in the rural areas that would embrace the President Special Initiative on “Agribusiness” would not just be shareholders but core of the company’s workforce. ESRP disburses over 6.9 billion cedis. The Emergency Social Relief program has so far disbursed 6.9 billion cedis through designated implementing institutions such as rural banks and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). About 103.8 million dollars would be disbursed under the fund that ends in 2004. About 6,981,348,999 cedis covers credit to 2,610 fishmongers in 25 communities in four coastal regions engaged in the purchase, processing and marketing of fish and 493 small-scale poultry farmers including emergency food aid to the North and Upper East Regions as well as registration of unemployed people. Mr. Baah-Wiredu said ESRP would eventually reach all the 110 districts but in the coming year it would tackle 45 districts in tandem with the common poverty reduction program. Ahafo-Ano North shares 40 million cedis PAF to Farmer: The Ahafo-Ano North District Assembly in the Ashanti Region has disbursed 40 million cedis to a number of farming groups as Poverty Alleviation Funds (PAF). This was disclosed by the District Chief Executive, Mr. Akwasi Adu-poku. He urged application for the Emergency Social Relief Fund to exercise patience as measures are being streamlined by the government for the disbursement of the ESRF. PAF, ESRP creating problem for NPP? The Poverty Alleviation Fund and the Emergency Social Relief Fund (ESRP) for women initiated by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government are gradually creating problems for the NPP. Most party members and their executives in Brong-Ahafo have urged the party to fulfil its promises else it would be disastrous for the party come 2004 elections The members have disclosed that the way the PAF is being disbursed is not transparent and therefore urged the managers of the fund to find a solution to it in order to ensure equitable disbursement. One of the women said Mrs. Gladys Asmah, Minister for women and Children’s Affairs, lied to the region (Brong Ahafo). They said the minister promised the women that her government would release 500 million cedis for the women under the ESRF but this money to date is not forth coming. Lord Commey the NPP’s National Organizer, assured the women that very soon the fund would be released. Employment for the people: 950,000 Register for employment. A total of 950,000 people registered during the nation-wide exercise to register under-employed and unemployed people in the country……. Out of the number, 631,722 representing about 66% are males with 318,278 representing 34% being females. According to the Chairman of the Action for Employment Generation Committee, Mr. Stephen Asamoah-Boateng, Ashanti region registered 211,000, Greater Accra region registered 188,000, Upper West region recorded 20,000, Brong Ahafo recorded 120,183, Eastern recorded 101,184, Western recorded 80,197, Central registered 75,033, Volta region recorded 55,063, Northern region recorded 52,063 and Upper East region registered 40,260. The high figures recorded in the Ashanti and Greater Accra region are not unexpected because of the mass rural-urban migration associated with the population of the two regions notably the capital, Accra and Kumasi. The coordinator for the National Economic Dialogue as well as the Chairman for Employment Generation committee, said the government intends to encourage Cottage Industries in the rural areas as part of the solution to the rural-urban migration. He further mentioned the re-opening of the meat factory at Zuarungu in the Upper East region and the komenda Sugar factory in the Central region among others to provide employment for the people. He noted that even though unemployment cannot be completely eliminated by the government, it has nonetheless begun a number of long term program aimed at providing employment opportunities for those who registered. He mentioned the President’s Special Initiative on Cassava, tree planting exercises and Irrigation Projects as some of those long term projects. Registered unemployed youth to know fate soon: The fate of the 950,000 unemployed youth who were registered by the government, will be known very soon. At the moment, a budget is ready for cabinet’s consideration. Government to train about 30,000 registered unemployment youth to gain employable skills by the end of 2003. The Director Mr. S.V. Apraku-Mensah said, the Integrated Community Center for Employable Skills (ICCES) would be established in all 110 districts to absorb registered unemployed youth. He identified soap, pomade, shito and tye and dye making as some of the short courses while masonry, carpentry, tailoring and catering services would form the regular courses. Government to create 80,000 permanent new jobs: The government is to create 80,000 permanent new jobs this year through the efforts of the Forestry Commission. This will add to the 73,000 jobs already created under the National Forest Plantation Development Program. The Program which was launched in September last year by President Kufuor, seeks to establish 20,000 hectares of forest plantation annually, using the “taung ya” system, which allows farmers to intercrop food crops with trees for a period of three years………… The cabinet has approved a new labor Bill for parliamentary consideration. The government has provided $3.4 million towards employment generation activities in rural and urban areas. The recent registration of the unemployed is providing the database for the effective preparation of employment programs. 10 National Vocational Training Institutions have been identified and that 1000 JSS leaver will be trained and equipped with employable skills The President’s Special Initiative on Textile and Garments is expected to generate 25,000 jobs. Jobs! Jobs! Jobs!.
The NPP came to meet a catastrophic economic situation: A runaway inflation, unsustainably high interest rates, a collapsed currency and a general loss of confidence. The hard decisions taken by the NPP ----- spending only what you have or reasonably expect to have. The unemployed, schools and health care facilities will benefit from debt relief of $96 million – President John Agyekum Kufuor said recently. He said the government has started the process of disbursing an initial sum of money to provide skill training for the jobless, improve schools and upgrade health care facilities in the country. According to the President, government has since cut back on domestic borrowing, helping to ease the pressure on rates and thus adding value to money. Modest achievements: Inflation moved down from 42% to 15%, stability of the cedi which was in doubt has maintained a respectable and economically exchange rate. Interest rates which stood at 50% last year is now having a downward trend. Work has started on the Accra – Kumasi highway, work on the Mallam – Kasoa road and other equally important roads is due to start by September according to the President. We must make the effort together and share in the results together said the President. Ghana since the 1960’s had had at least four development plans. We have been short on implementation. No plan that we work on will go untouched, not reviewed and not implemented said President Kufuor.
Government Economic “Achievements” criticized. Most of the people have expressed skepticism about the government achievements saying they are yet to experience their impart. They expressed concerned about the rising cost of living, which had made life unbearable. They recounted how ordinary food stuffs like tomatoes, pepper, yam and other foods are now selling at exorbitant prices. So is Election 2004, a test for NPP’s Economic Programs? The NPP must now WALK the WALK. They have done enough TALKING the TALK. One thing Ghanaians must know is that the NPP is a true government for them and that they are getting the job done. It is not an easy win or quick fixes but Ghanaians must be assured that it is not going to be like the other party. But there is HOPE. Views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.