21.03.2005 General News

Ghanaian visas ready in 48 hours

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... to attract foreign investors - GIS Accra, March 21, GNA - Proper documentation would now enable non-visa holding investors and business people to obtain visas from the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) within 48 hours of their arrival in the country.

The measure, part of the grand foreign direct investment drive of government, applies also to passengers and tourists, and is to make Ghana an investment destination country.

Mr Joseph Ollenu, Project Secretary of the Ghana Gateway Project, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Monday after an investment meeting with a Swiss business delegation in Accra that the new system was comparable to the one operating in South Africa and Malaysia.

The visa fee ranges from 25 to 100 US Dollars.

The new system, however, is maintaining adequate security measures to prevent fake investors from taking advantage of the system.

There were presentations from the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Ghana Export Promotion Council, Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) and Ghana Free Zones Board among others at the meeting, which was part of a three-day investment visit of a high ranking Swiss economic and trade delegation to Ghana.

Private sector operators in construction, engineering, fruits, dried fruits, textiles, textile colours and electricity were among the delegation, which would also seek to strengthen investment with their Ghanaian counterparts.

Switzerland's direct investment to Ghana amounts to 70 million dollars in about 50 projects.

In 2004, exports from Ghana to Switzerland amounted 28 million dollars whereas imports from Switzerland to Ghana were about 21 million dollars.

Traditionally, Ghana has a positive trade balance with Switzerland, a document from the Embassy of Switzerland said.

Mr. Ollenu said the development of the electronic Ghana Community Networks and the Ghana Customs Management of System (GCMS (GCNet)/GCMS has drastically reduced the duration of clearance of goods at the port. The streamlining of activities of the Ghana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) and the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), the Free Zones Board, and Environmental Protection Agency, has improved efficiency of the import and export operations, reduced cost of doing business and allowed more private sector participation in business and investment.

Dr. Peter Ankrah, Director of the GIPC, said the Centre had registered some 1,855 projects since the current Investment Act became operational in September 1994.

These comprise 497 projects in the Service, 481 in the Manufacturing, 208 in Tourism, 132 in Building and Construction and 137 in Agriculture sectors.

Others are 169 in General Trade, 104 in Export Trade and Liaison Offices.

All the projects are estimated to cost 2.08 billion dollars, made of 1.70 billion dollars foreign component and 0.38 billion dollars local component.

Dr. Ankrah said the leading major sources of FDI into Ghana were India, Britain, China, Lebanon, USA, Germany, Korea, Italy, the Netherlands and Nigeria.

He said the country was operating a one-stop-shop and investment law, which provided generous and attractive incentives and benefits, including customs duty exemption on machinery and equipment, and tax incentive ranging from 25 to 50 per cent depending on locations of industry.

There are also tax holidays of five to 10 years for agriculture, five years for real estate development.

Ghana has also concluded agreements with a number of countries to avoid double taxation, established the Ghana Arbitration Centre for amicable resolution of business disputes and Commercial Court to fast track the adjudication of commercial cases.

Mr Salathiel Doe Amegavie, Chief Executive of the GNCCI, said the Chamber, was the foremost private sector organisation in Ghana, with a database of 4,000 Ghanaian companies.

Mr Kwamena Bartels, Minister for Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiative, who chaired a session of the meeting, assured the investors of government's preparedness to create the enabling environment for private foreign direct investment.

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