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28.12.2004 Business & Finance

Gov't asked to make PSI core strategy for wealth creation

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Accra, Dec. 28, GNA- Government has been asked to make the President's Special Initiatives (PSI's), more robust by placing the various Initiatives at the core of wealth creation.

" If the PSI are the new growth pillars of the future, then they should be at the core of strategy and not the derivative of strategy", Dr Ishmael Yamson, Chairman of Council, University of Ghana (UG), Legon, said at the opening of the 56th Annual New Year school in Accra on Tuesday.

He said, the over reliance of the national economy on cocoa and gold exposes Ghana to risks and vulnerability associated to the price fluctuations of the two commodities, hence the necessity to invest in the PSI's to build additional legs to support the economy.

" Currently we are enjoying relatively high prices for both cocoa and gold but commodities are commodities and those high prices will fall eventually. Therein lies the challenge of developing more sustainable growth pillars that will allow the country to create wealth on a sustainable basis for sustained eradication of poverty".

Dr. Yamson said although the PSI's made strategic sense, the list was not robust enough and therefore, suggested the need for tourism and services, particularly port and services and private capital flows, either corporate or personal to be brought on board.

The School, being organised by the Institute of Adult Education (IAE) of the UG is on the theme: " Wealth Creation For Accelerated National Development: Imperatives and Challenges".

A cross-section of people, including traditional rulers, academia and representatives from civic organisations are attending the one- week school that would offer them an opportunity to reflect on the direction of the economy to sustain wealth creation.

Dr. Yamson identified good political leadership supported by an effective and efficient public sector and growth -oriented corporate leadership as critical to wealth creation.

"Politicians do not directly create wealth themselves but companies do. Politicians create the environment for business to function". Dr Yamson gave an anecdote of the types of leaders who, either turned the economy around or ruined it.

"The first type I call them the undertakers. They, like undertakers, bury everything they are given. The second type is the overseer. They neither add nor take out anything from what they inherit. They just supervise it.

"The last type is the builder, the change agent, the visionary. He takes the dough and makes big bread out of it. He moves his country from third world to first world."

Dr Yamson said the snail pace legal system, which also lacked transparency and consistency, pervasive corruption especially at the ports, extensive smuggling and evasion of taxes and duties were some factors undermining wealth creation.

Quoting from the latest publication of the African Investor, he said days taken to register a business in African countries far outweigh those of others: two days in Australia compared to 126 in Ghana.

Dr. Yamson noted that since businesses flourished in flexible and consistent environments, entrepreneurs had to adjust to market conditions and seize opportunities for growth.

"They need to be able to start up, close down, secure credit, demand payment and manage the workforce not only responsibly but simple...They need policies and regulations to be made and communicated in predictable ways."

He condemned ethnocentrism among Ghanaians, saying the tendency for tribalism, especially in politics was leading the country to self- destruction.

Professor Edward Ofori-Sarpong, Pro-Vice Chancellor of the UG, said the IAE was in the process of repackaging its informal and formal programmes to make them more accessible to the general public. Mr Reuben Aggor, Acting Director of the IAE, said the Institute was collaborating with the Canadian International Development Agency and the Association of Universities in Canada to start a distance learning programme on HIV/AIDS.

Dr Ernest Addison, Director of Research of the Bank of Ghana, said there was the need to strengthen the country's privatisation policy and institute a comprehensive public sector reform. Ms Joyce Rosalind Aryee, Chief Executive of the Ghana Chamber of Mines, who chaired the opening ceremony, which took place for the first time at the Accra International Conference Centre, instead of the traditional university campus, urged Ghanaians to be agents of change to facilitate wealth creation.

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