PRESIDENT JOHN Agyekum Kufuor has reiterated his call on banks to lower their lending rates to make credit facilities available to private investors in the country. Though interest rates had come down significantly from over 50 percent from the beginning of last decade to an average of about 22 percent, the President thought more should be done.
In his opening address at the 8th Ghana Investors' Advisory Council Meeting, the President urged banks to endeavour to lower interest rates further as that would also enhance mobilisation of savings.
A further cut in the lending rate, he noted, would also make “credit more affordable to the private sector”.
The two-day meeting, which opened on October 31 and ended on November I, 2008, gave domestic and foreign investors as well as Ghana's development partners the opportunity to discuss the exciting developments in the energy, communications as well as the ports, habours and railways sectors.
The Ghana Investors' Advisory Council, a private sectors think-tank, which since its inauguration in 2002 had been deliberating on how to remove bottlenecks that impeded private sector growth, had in the past years focused on financial sector reforms, land reforms and agri-business.
After listing a number of government's interventions that were promoting investment in the country, President Kufuor announced that Brazil and Norway were to partner Ghana in the development of a $4billion integrated aluminum industry “which has been a national dream since the first republic”.
The project, which would have built-in plans for the generation of 4,000 megawatts of power, half of which would be put into the West Africa power Pool, was expected to employ about 4,000 Ghanaians.
He expressed the hope that members of parliament would appreciate the great potential of the project which would among other built-in features have a railway line “and give it the fullest support”.
He hinted that government was on the brink of securing a concessionary loan from the Brazilian government towards the construction of mini-dams around some selected rivers.
The four mini-dams would be built on rivers Oti, Pra and Ankobra.
As part of government's effort to promote investments, it championed the establishment of commercial courts as well as the institution of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for the speedy dispensation of commercial cases.
On the recent global financial crises, which hit the United States of America and the Great Britain, President Kufuor was glad that it had not yet affected the country directly and promised that “government is keeping a watchful eye on the unfolding events in order to anticipate and forestall any danger to the economy”.
Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Minister of Trade, Industry and Private Sector Development, in his welcome message said since may 2002 when GIAC came into being, it had identified and seriously been discussing issues that had made Ghana relatively uncompetitive in attracting the expected levels of domestic and foreign direct investments.
He did not mince words in reminding the global corporate executives and gurus of the industry, commerce and finance sectors in Ghana that this year's meeting was the last to be chaired by President Kufuor who was the brain behind the GIAC and its chairman since its inception.
“The GIAC is truly a legacy that speaks volumes of the Kufuor administration's abiding commitment to partnership with the private sector in charting the country's path to accelerated growth and poverty reduction.”
By Emelia Ennin Abbey