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10.06.2005 Business & Finance

PEF seeks presidential help


THE Governing Council of the Private Enterprise Foundation is to meet President Kufuor later this month to discuss ways of salvaging local industries and developing the private sector.

The meeting is expected to request a presidential intervention for market access for Ghanaian products to other member states of ECOWAS, especially Nigeria, which has banned the importation of textiles and hair care products from Ghana.

First National Vice President of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry and a Governing Council Member of the Private Enterprise Foundation, Wilson Atta Krofah, told The Statesman in an interview that the business executives would discuss with the President the state of Ghanaian industries, and the unfair trade practices adopted by neighbouring states.

“One of the things we will tell the President is that our industries are collapsing because of the unfair trade practices that we are having from the international community, particularly Nigeria.

“We expect the President to use his diplomatic powers to help resolve the issue,” the Council member said.

“Nigeria has to listen since the opening up of each other's market is part of the ECOWAS protocol adopted by member states and especially when President Obasanjo is a good friend of President Kufuor. “If Nigeria refuses to listen, then Ghana must also close its market to products from other economies,” Atta Krofah fumed.

“We cannot be strictly adhering to the ECOWAS protocols whilst our industries are collapsing” he added.

Also on the agenda of the presidential meeting would be a discussion of the role of industry in the government's private sector development programme. Business executives would seek from the President practical ways by which they could partner government to achieve the objectives of industry. Even before the scheduled meeting, Castle sources have hinted to The Statesman that President Kufuor has already discussed the issue of market access with President Obasanjo, but the latter would not budge.

According to Mr Atta Krofah, their meetings with the President in the past have yielded positive results. He said most of the concerns of the private sector were factored in the current budget. He mentioned the reduction on profit tax from 32% to 30% and the reduction in Withholding Tax from 7½% to 5% among others to buttress his point.

For years now, many industries have faced a number of threats that have inhibited their growth, usually from the inflow of uncustomed goods, infringement on intellectual property rights, importation of imitated products that usually carried lower prices and the lack of market access by member states of ECOWAS.

Mr Atta Krofah said the collapse of the textile industry was not due to Government's refusal to take on board concerns of the sector, but because some of the problems have international dimensions and have to be resolved through diplomacy. This, he said, required a lot of time since Ghana was a member of the WTO and ECOWAS. But the major headache of the private sector was not just the lack of market access, he stressed, but also the dumping of goods, especially textiles, which were relatively cheaper due to smuggling and the special incentives given to the industries in their countries of origin by their governments, onto the Ghanaian market.