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13.05.2008 Business & Finance

Private Enterprise Foundation holds forum

By GNA
Accra, May 13, GNA – Government is poised to launch Ghana into a middle income status in the next few years through a new development paradigm of stability, growth and consolidation.
In a speech read on behalf of Mr Joe Baidoo-Ansah, Minister of Trade, Industry, Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives, at a Forum for Trade and Business Associations (TBAs) in Accra, he noted that the first phase - stability of the economy - had been completed.
The forum on Strengthening Capacities of Trade and Business Associations to Help in Accelerating Growth of Private Sector brought together participants from Volta, Greater Accra, Western and Central Regions.
The workshop was organized by the Private Enterprise Foundation (PEF) in collaboration with Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS), one of the seven German political foundations that seek to promote the ideals of good governance across the globe.
The Minister contended that to appreciate gains that had been made at the macro level to the grassroots, the trade policy and the implementing blueprint, the Trade and Sector Support Programme (TSSP), had put in place projects and programmes to overhaul its productive capacity through Small and Medium-scale Enterprises (SMEs) and empower the private sector to take the reigns of economic development.
It is estimated that, 70 per cent of all industrial establishments are in the SMEs sector and 85 per cent of manufacturing employment also comes from the sector contributing significantly to overall export earnings from the non-traditional export sector and creates jobs at a relatively low capital cost.
The sector, the Minister noted, was more resilient to external shocks like foreign exchange fluctuations and inflation, among other things.
He, however, said a number of remedial measures to address the myriad of challenges confronting the sector had been out-doored.
He announced the restructuring of the National Board for Small and Medium-Scale Industries (NBSSI) to provide world class SME support services as well as upgrade SMEs through fiscal incentives for technology and research development expenditure.
He acknowledged the role of TBAs in accelerating the growth of the private sector and challenged them to do continuous learning and expose themselves to the new changes and developments going on globally, adding that they should look at innovative ways of developing the TBAs into a strong and viable one.
Mr Klaus D. Loetzer, KAS Resident Representative, said capacity building was critical to the success of every business entity.
He said even though there were credit facilities for the private sector to access, several business entities complained of lack of credit and other business facilities.
He attributed the unwillingness of the corporate sector to access available credit facilities for their development to poor capacities of trade and trade associations to take advantage of such interventions.
Mr Wilson Attah Krofah, President, Private Enterprise Foundation, who chaired the forum, said though some TBAs had been in the country for over 50 years, the private sector perceived that they had not lived to expectation and blamed them as not having the strong voice that can be heard by policy makers to help address challenges that they faced.
In the developing countries, he said, these associations were very strong and were able to organize trade missions to other countries to promote their individual members and negotiate trade policies or reforms on behalf of their members at international conferences.
Mr Attah Krofah said business integration such as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) presented challenges to markets in the ECOWAS regions and explained that companies from the European Union were larger, well resourced and can compete effectively against the country's companies which were dominated by SMEs.
This, he noted, was a challenge for the SMEs in the integrated world.
Representatives of Institution of Engineers, Ghana Union of Traders Association, and construction sector called on government to help propel the private sector which is the country's engine of growth into higher heights.
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