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14.07.2005 Business & Finance

Ghana's Investment Law to be reviewed

Ghana's Investment Law to be reviewed
Accra, July 14, GNA - Ghana's Investment Law, which is deficient in keeping out infiltrators in the country's retail trade is to be reviewed, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Kwadwo Affram Asiedu said in Accra on Thursday. He said the Ministry, in collaboration with the Attorney - General's Department, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre and other relevant agencies were currently working on the Law to make it more beneficial to local small and medium enterprises. Mr Asiedu said these in a speech read for him by Mr. Nyame Baafi, Deputy Chief Commercial Officer of the Ministry, at the inauguration of the Accra Central Shop-Owners Association, an affiliate of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), in Accra.
The main objective of the Association among other things is to unite all shop-owners in the Accra Central Business District and bring them under the umbrella of GUTA to further their interest and rights. Mr Asiedu said that the Ministry had noted with keen interest the problems posed by foreigners, who had infiltrated the retail market and would ensure that the rules and regulations governing investment were observed.
He said the Ministry was also aware of the usual complaint that businesses did not have access to affordable financing that would enable them to expand, but scored it down to non-payment of borrowed funds, which could be recycled to reach wider groups of people. The Deputy Minister advised that trade associations should fulfil their financial obligations whenever granted loans to enable others who needed the same facilities to have access to them.
He admitted that loans and grants given to government under various Overseas Development Assistance meant for the private sector had not been officially publicised but encouraged members of GUTA willing to graduate into "captains of industry' to call at the Ministry to find out how to access these facilities.
The Ministry, he said, was in the process of documenting these facilities and publishing them for interested organizations to access them.
Mr Asiedu called on GUTA to continuously educate their members to make them more consumer-friendly, willing to engage the Ministry and other ministries, departments and agencies in constructive discussions whenever new policies were introduced.
He exhorted the members of Accra Central Shop-Owners Association to honour their tax obligations and to refrain from acts that might disrupt the economy.
Mr Moses Dani Baah, Deputy Minister of Private Sector Development and President's Special Initiatives, noted that the private sector could be assisted to flourish if institutional and legal bottlenecks that impeded its development were removed.
To this end, the Government through the Ministry had designed a National Medium Term Development Strategy (NMTDS), with the involvement of stakeholders such as the GUTA, to support the private sector. The main focus of the NMDTS is to reduce the bureaucratic and institutional bottlenecks that constrain the private sector.
The Deputy Minister said the Ministry was also taking steps to review laws that did not facilitate private sector growth and was working closely with the Ministry of Public Sector Reform to undertake institutional review of the public sector, to see how it could be reformed to improve the delivery of services to the private sector. He called on members of the association to pay their taxes regularly and to operate their businesses according good business principles.
Mr Tony Ofori-Badu, Deputy Head, SMEs and Rural Banking Division of the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), the sponsors of the Associations' inaugural ceremony, said the Bank was committed to supporting micro, small and medium enterprises to grow and expand into bigger companies. He told the members of the Association that the GCB was determined to identify the specific needs of their businesses to elevate the strengths of their enterprises to make them more competitive on the market.
To this end, he said, the GCB had put together a very a efficient administrative machinery to see to the specific needs of SME's and provide customized services to enable them to grow. In addition, the Bank, he said, was ready to team up with the Association to offer financial assistance as might be required by its members on timely basis.
Mr Ofori-Badu encouraged other shop owners in the CBD to join the Association and to open accounts with the GCB in order to benefit from the Banks lucrative package. Mr George Ofori, General Secretary of the GUTA, commended both the present and past governments for recognizing the private sector as the engine of growth, and expressed the hope that the Government would ensure that "the engine is provided with the necessary and adequate fuel to work to expectation.
"We wish to acknowledge the Government's effort to stabilize the economy and hope more actions would be stepped up to achieve the set target."
He called on all shop owners in central Accra and beyond to join the Association to better their lot. He entreated members to honour their tax obligation promptly and to report any problems or frustrations to the GUTA to address them. A seven-member interim executive of the Association was sworn into office with Nana Adansi Twum Barima, an entrepreneur as the head.