Minister of Trade and Industry, Public Sector Development and President's Special Initiative, Mr Alan Kyerematen, on Wednesday called on the board of the Export Development and Investment Fund (EDIF) to consider expanding its coverage to all the districts in the country to help increase the nation exports.
He said it was unfortunate that EDIF credit fund coverage of 83 percent was concentrated in the Ashanti, Greater Accra and Eastern Regions with its grant of 58 percent to the same regions, which he said were not the poorest in the country.
Mr Kyeremanten made the call at a day's stakeholder's forum organized by EDIF at Elmina to review it operates and achievements.
He underscored the important role of EDIF in the socio-economic development of the country and called on EDIF to come out with pragmatic programmes that would help develop and increase the nation's export.
Mr Kyeremanten said the nation could only achieve middle-income status if its export base was expanded and developed adding that the nation would lead foreign exchange to enhance its export business.
"Unless we export, all the gains we have made so far will come to naught."
He said the country's future greatly depended on its exports and was happy that for the first time in the nations history, the value of non traditional exports was going to out-strip that of cocoa, adding that in 2001, foreign exchange earning from non-traditional export have grown from 459 million dollars to 893 million dollars last year and was expected to hit 1.2 billion dollars.
He called for the proper capitalization of EDIF and asked that it should source other means of funding instead of heavily relying on the 0.5 levy on the value of non-petroleum commercial imports.
Mr Kyeremanten also tasked EDIF to critically look at the its credit sealing and interest rates and come out with a policy that would support start up companies to have access to credit facilities and grants to enhance their business stressing that the current interest rates charged by banks and other financial institutions cannot support and sustain any development in the country.
He said the ministry has set up three export trade houses and urged EDIF to help Ghanaians exporters to get ready markets for their goods.
He said each of the 138 districts would soon be provided with industries and that the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) would also be restructured to meet the demands of the new industries.
Mr Anthony Ossei Board Chairman of EDIF said EDIF has from 2001 to 2006 realized an amount of 673.9 billion cedis from the 0.5 levy on the value of non-petroleum commercial imports.
He said from 2002 to 2006, EDIF has disbursed 515.6 billion cedis as loans to 163 export companies and enterprises and amount of 163.9 billion cedis in grants to several farmer based groups, adding that the rate of loan recovery was 79.6 per cent which described as satisfactory.
He said in EDIF five years of operations, it has contributed to employment generation and that the capacity of over 7,000 peasant farmers in rural areas had been improved.
On the way forward, he said EDIF would continue to play a key role in the economy of the country.