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03.02.2009 Business & Finance

Wood carvers call for gov’t help

By gna

Mr Tanko Amadu, a Wood-carver at the Arts Centre, in Accra, on Tuesday urged the government to initiate financial and skill development programmes for handicraft makers.

He said those working in the industry had not had any direct help in the form of training or loans from any government, making it difficult for the sector to grow.

In an interview with the Ghana News Agency, Mr Amadu said in the past craftsmen were informed about exhibitions and helped to participate to attract markets both locally and internationally.

“These days they don't inform us about such exhibitions, it is foreigners that come in to exhibit and they get all the orders while we suffer to cater for ourselves,” he added.

Mr Amadu also complained about low tourists turn out at the Centre and said his colleagues were sometimes forced to sell their products at a loss since the market was so slow.

He said one big drum should normally sell at about GH¢35 but local businessmen take advantage of their low sale and sometimes bought it for GH¢20 or even less while the same size of drum is sold in South Africa for GH¢ 95.

Mr Amadu further said he used to train street children in the trade for free but had to stop due to the challenges he faced in the industry.

In another development, Mrs Janet Bekoe, a trader at the Arts Centre, who sells Kente Cloth and beads, expressed concerns about the multiplicity of taxes collected from different revenue agencies from them.

She explained that the traders paid taxes to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly, the Arts Centre and the Internal Revenue Service, in addition to paying for the services of a cleaner and security personnel.

Mrs Bekoe said prices had gone up resulting in low sales and attributed that to the depreciation of the cedi.

“The Kente weavers import thread into the country and that results in the increased prices of the cloth,” she said but admitted that a lot of Ghanaians patronized their products.

Mr Kwasi Ntiamoah, also a Kente Cloth seller at the Centre, said the government should host more international conferences in the country since that brought in a lot of tourists and also helped to promote their products and Ghana to the international community.

Mrs Bridget Katsriku, Chief Director of the Ministry of Tourism, in an interview, urged people in the tourism industry to strengthen collaboration with the handicraft sector.

She said even though there was already an informal collaboration between the two sectors there was the need to formalise procedures and put together a clear cut policy.

“Tourism has direct impact on the growth of the arts and craft industry,” she added.

With support from the Business Sector Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, the Ghana Journalists Association in collaboration with the KAB Governance Consult has been working to bring out the challenges of the Small Scale Businesses under a project which is on the theme: “Using the Media to Promote Business Advocacy.”

Source: GNA