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26.01.2005 Business & Finance

Ten starch factories to be set up

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Accra, Jan. 26, GNA - Mr. Alan Kyerematen, Minister of Trade designate on Wednesday said the President's Special Initiative (PSI) is "a new strategic pillar to enhance the country's export revenue base by reducing the over reliance on the major export products.

He said the attachment of "President" to the special initiative was to show "the seriousness and interest the President attaches to the initiative and not that it was a new venture started by the President since most Ghanaians were already involved in such ventures." Mr. Kyerematen made these comments when he appeared before the Appointments Committee of Parliament.

He said the initiative was private sector centred and that the only role government played was to facilitate the programme by funding the mobilisation of farmers and sensitising them, preparing and syndicating of business plans, access to technology and managerial skills.

The Minister-Designate said the initiative was not only to produce but also to add value to the product, which in the long run created employment as well as enhanced the financial base of the rural community.

He said it was his ambition to set up 10 starch factories within the next five years and that currently the factory in the Central Region was doing well and had started exporting its products.

"It is our intention to develop at least one major industrial project in all the 138 districts, which we believe will transform the lives of the people and create the environment for development. He said during his first term in office he was able to define a clear direction for the Ministry by adopting an export and market-led industrial policy and chartered a course for the Ministry's programmes.

"I was also able to formulate a coherent national trade policy as well as technology improvement programme and the transformation of the public and civil servant sector by removing most of the bureaucratic bottlenecks."

"My vision for the next four years will be to consolidate and implement the programmes I initiated and also develop small and medium scale enterprises by making them accessible to finance, technology and business development projects."

On the gateway project, Mr. Kyerematen said the first phase of the project had been completed and that currently his ministry was negotiating with the World Bank for the second phase.

He said the Tema Processing Zone could not perform as expected because of the initial problem they encountered with Business Focus from Malaysia the operators of the Zone, adding that the Free Zone, however, was doing well.

Mr. Kyerematen said the clearing of goods at ports had also improved due to the provision of the GC-Net operated by the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).

Asked about his presidential ambitions, the Minister-Designate said "I am currently focusing on what I have been tasked to do that is executing the assignment given to me by the President."

"However, I believe there is nothing wrong with having political ambitions ... I will cross that bridge when I get to it."

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