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03.08.2004 Business & Finance

Small and medium enterprise owners attend workshop

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Tamale, Aug 3, GNA - The Italian government has provided a 10 million-Euro credit facility to support the small and medium enterprises in the country.

The facility would be used to import equipment and machinery from Italy to boost local industries.

In a speech read on behalf Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister of Private Sector Development, to launch the facility at a workshop in Tamale on Tuesday, he expressed regret about the perception among a section of the business community that government money and donor assistance funds "are free money".

"This is a wrong perception because credit loaned out must be paid back otherwise access to new facilities will be blocked..."

Mr Bartels noted that some credit lines negotiated by the government, had been under-utilized because of lack of information to prospective applicants.

The facility is for small and medium scale enterprises employing between five and 300 people and with a turnover of between 300 million and 10.5 billion cedis. Mr. Bartels urged businessmen and women in the Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions to take advantage to expand their businesses.

Mr Pietro Bucci, Italian Project Coordinator of the Ghana Private Sector Development Fund, said the project would provide appropriate technologies, investment appraisal and facilitate the establishment of joint ventures with foreign enterprises especially from Italy. The project would also define the investment packages taking into account the characteristics of the credit facility with regards to the Italian origin of goods and services.

It would also provide information on the Italian market and possible suppliers.

He said enterprises operating in the farming sector were not eligible, adding that, only enterprises in the industrial and service sectors could access the facility.

Mr. Mahami Salifu, Upper East Regional Minister, suggested that 60 per cent of the assistance should be given to women and appealed to the implementers of the project to avoid bureaucratic tendencies that slowed down initiative.

"We need to have offices in the three regions to enable the people to have quick access to the credit as many of them would not have money to travel to Accra to process their papers." 03 Aug 04

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