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15.11.2002 General News

Industrialisation fund to be set up

By Daily Graphic
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Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Trade and Industries, said government would establish an industrialisation fund shortly to offer financial support for teething and distressed industries.

He said due to their weak financial bases, local entrepreneurs find it difficult to partner foreigners, who are ready to set up in Ghana on the condition of partnership with locals.

"I believe that our indigenous businessmen should have a stake in all forms of foreign investments in Ghana. This is even the feeling of the foreigners."

The Minister was interacting with members of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Trade and Industry in Accra. He said he will soon present four bills that seek to promote a viable domestic industrial environment to Parliament.

"One of the four bills is the 'Domestic Content Bill' that would compel manufacturers to use a certain percentage of available local raw materials. We are certain that all these bills would strengthen our industries."

He said local industries have suffered a lot as a result of unfair trade practices and the refusal of certain companies to use local materials for manufacturing. On international trade, he said, developing countries are often bullied by the well-endowed countries.

He said that notwithstanding, Ghana would have to offer immense support to the private sector by sharpening its competitive urge to have a say on the trade forum.

The Minister expressed concern about Ghana's poor representation at the various trade negotiations, adding that that low capacity does not help the country in the trade tariff debate. He called for a change in the Ghanaian altitude towards work and business management.

"Government's role in this regard is pre-eminent and we would provide that leadership. We are aware that Ghana is not known as the best destination for foreign investment."

Dan Abodakpi, Ranking Member of the Committee, called for a national consensus on the promotion of local industries, adding that such a policy should be isolated from partisan politics. He called for "growth poles" within the economy that would be points of focus to achieve growth.

The former Minister of Trade and Industries said the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have trapped Ghana with conditionalities that make it almost impossible for helping even farmers with subsidies.

He said Ghana also struggles to gain access to American and EU markets because of their protectionist policies. "The World Trade Organisation (WTO), which was supposed to provide a level playing field on trade practices has been hijacked by the powerful nations who have subsidy regimes to prop up their farmers and industrialists," he said.

Nana Asante Frimpong, Chairman, said the committee would continue such interaction to help members have first hand information on global and domestic trade issues.

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