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08.03.2007 General News

Foreign Products Take Over Fair

A Kumasi-based businessman, Mr Akenten Appiah- Menkah, has expressed concern about the influx of foreign products at the ongoing Ghana Trade Fair, at a time the country is marketing her products as part of the Golden Jubilee celebration.

He said the continuous importation of foreign products into the country in the name of free market economy without giving support to indigenous entrepreneurs was a contributory factor to the high rate of unemployment among the youth.

He went on to say that at 50 years of independence, it was time Ghana focused on providing effective support to indigenous entrepreneurs to expand their industries.

This, he said, would go a long way to reduce streetism, drug abuse, teenage pregnancy and robbery, among other crimes, mostly associated with the youth.

Mr Appiah-Menkah was outlining some of the problems that had undermined sustainable socio-economic advancement of the country since independence.

He said since the first republic when the government initiated a regimented economy based on socialism, which led to the establishment of factories, farms, an airline, railway and the Black Star Line (BSL), successive governments had done little to support the private sector.

Mr Appiah-Menkah said that “it was not until 1996 that the state saw the need to encourage private initiatives” , but was quick to adde that “the damage had already been done”.

He said the high rate of inflation, high interest and exchange rates as well as irregular water and energy supplies over the years had also combined to undermine private sector development.

“We have not been able to develop our local industrial base to meet the forces of global supply because of the hostile attitude of previous governments towards private sector initiatives, and this is the reason why the Golden Jubilee Trade Fair had nothing to show so far as local products are concerned,” Mr Appiah-Menkah stated.

Mr Appiah-Menkah said “so long as Ghana continues to rely on foreign products at the expense of locally manufactured products, there would be mass unemployment among university graduates, polytechnic and senior secondary school leavers and their counterparts at the junior secondary schools”.

He said it was equally important for Ghanaians to develop the taste for locally manufactured products to encourage local entrepreneurs to expand their businesses to accelerate the development of local industries, and urged the banks to reduce interest rates as a matter of urgency to encourage the private sector to do business with them.

He called on the Bank of Ghana to set up a scheme where new foreign banks would put aside a percentage of their lending capitals as start-up capital for local entrepreneurs.