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22.03.2004 General News

Inject more capital - Participants

By GNA

Accra, March 22, GNA - Participants at a forum to map out strategies for accelerating Ghana's economic growth beyond the six per cent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) target have underscored the need for increased capital injection to enhance the economy.

They also called for increased patronage for 'Made in Ghana Goods,' to give local industries the competitive edge to match their counterparts in the developed world.

The participants drawn from industry; finance; corporate bodies and the private sector made the call at a forum organized in honour of the visiting World Bank President, James Wolfensohn on Monday.

The forum also emphasised the importance of improved access to the markets of the developed world and urged the World Bank to help bring down the non-tariff barriers that especially discriminated against products from developing countries.

Mr Ishmael Yamson, Chairman of UNILEVER Ghana, said while Ghana had opened its borders to almost every product from the outside world because of its unbridled liberalization policy, industries in the country had suffered restrictions in getting their goods onto markets outside through tacit implementation of non-tariff barriers.

He said Ghanaian industries were being overwhelmed with problems, which were not only financial but also infrastructural and managerial. Mr Yamson said the key to reviving the private sector was to make Ghanaian businesses competitive.

Mr Moses Asaga, the Minority Spokesman on Finance, said dwindling official development and capital investment flows into the country over the years had contributed to the failure of the economy to attain appreciable growth rate.

He, therefore, called on the World Bank and the donor community to make available critically needed capital investments to help to speed up the process of rapid transformation of the economy.

Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Chairman of Data Bank, said a radical change in saving habits by enticing people to put aside part of their earnings could help address the capital problem facing the country.

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, noted that there could be no meaningful growth without a vibrant small and medium enterprises sector, which formed the largest chunk of industries in the private sector.

In this direction, the Government would find out ways to assist SMEs with the necessary financial and technical assistance to enhance growth.

Mr Osafo-Maafo said while macro-economic stability alone was not sufficient for attainment of the desired level of growth, the country must make use of the steady growth rate achieved in the past three years as well as efforts to diversify the economy through the various President's Special Initiatives to accelerate development.

Mr Matts Karlson, Country Director of World Bank, said if all went well, the Bank would inject 500 million dollars into the economy this year, adding that the amount was part of a 1.3 billion dollar grant earmarked for the country in the next four years.

However, he said, to ensure rapid economic development, it was important to get the country's growth strategy right, saying without it, any support provided would amount to nothing.

Mr James Wolfensohn stressed partnership between the Government and the private sector to attain the envisaged growth target.

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