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07.06.2004 General News

Dagbon And Crude Oil Increases - Govt's Main Problems,

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The President John Agyekum Kufuor has reassured Ghanaians of his government's commitment to ensure peaceful elections this year, with a call on the other parties to follow suit.

Speaking at the 5th meeting of the Ghana Investors' Advisory Council (GIAC) at Akosombo on Friday he said, "Let me use this platform to reiterate my personal commitment to this process in December and to stress that government expects the same commitment from all the contending parties."

He said not only would the success in the general elections ensure continued peace and stability but also maintain investor confidence in the country.

The Advisory Council which is made up of thirty investors is to among others identify priority areas for change or improvement and suggest solutions based on practical investor experience. In addition, it is to increase the government's understanding of factors driving or hindering investors to Ghana.

President Kufuor said the government's decision to subject the country to the NEPAD Peer Review Mechanism "is not intended to score political points."

He said "positive reservations by the reviewers should be a credit to Ghanaians who have been practicing democracy since 1992 any negative observations should be looked upon as a corrective measure."

He said the Dagbon crisis and the increase in crude oil prices on the world market have been the major headaches of his government. However, he assured the Council that measures have been put in place to straighten things.

He said "hopefully within the next month or so, the state of emergency and the curfew which has been in place for two years may be lifted all together after the burial of the late Ya-Na."

On the international price increases of crude oil, President Kufuor assured the country that "the government would not succumb to the threat of petroleum product increases without adequately preparing its people." He said the government has reached an agreement with development partners and multi-lateral donors "to keep the lid on the price trigger mechanism for a reasonable while."

"Hence, to meet the ongoing prices government has had to look within, at companies like the Ghana Cocoa Board, Civil Aviation Authority, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority and the Divestiture Implementation Committee for any available surplus resources which by law, must be paid to the consolidated fund in any case, to help with the funding of crude oil importation."

He said there have been some positive gains in the financial sector such as the reduction in the Bank of Ghana prime rate from 20% to 18% and Ghanaians abroad last year transferred US$1.5 billion. At the end of the first quarter of this year they transferred an amount of $611.5m into the economy.

He said the AngloGold Ashanti merger and the introduction of Newmont operations in Ghana "proclaim to the world that Ghana is a worthy investment destination."

He said the government is currently in discussions with investors on how to fully seize and maximize the benefits that arise from the Volta Aluminium Company (VALCO) deal. "We are looking for the investment of capital and technical expertise.

We believe that with proper management, we will be able to have a fully integrated aluminium production industry in Ghana," he said.

President Kufuor said with the various market-driven reforms taking place within the country's business regulatory framework, the investment climate would continue to get better.

He said his invitation to the G8 summit as one of six African presidents in Georgia, USA "serves as a source of great pride and motivation to the nation."

The Minister of Private Sector Development, Mr. Kwamena Bartels who is the chairman of the Oversight Committee of the GIAC said his colleague ministers have worked towards the implementation of the recommendations of the Council and inroads are being made with the bottlenecks associated with land acquisition and registration in Ghana among other improvements to doing business in Ghana.

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