In the just released 2006 Cost of Doing Business Report, the World Development Report ranked Ghana 82 out of 155 countries as a good place for doing business, compared to the 86th position it holds this year.
While this may be below expectation, it represents a definite improvement in the country's business environment. Indeed, Ghana's position on these rankings has been improving since 2004.
The same World Development Report further shows that, while the procedures for starting a business in Ghana remain the same, the time taken to register a business has reduced from 85 days in 2005 to 81days in 2006.
The Minister for Private Sector Development, Kwabena Bartels, in an interview, told the Business Chronicle that the cost of starting a business has also been reduced from 87.5% of income per capita to 78.6%. The cost of registering a property has also reduced from 4.1% of equality to 3.7%.
Touching on some positive results of the business environment in Ghana, he said MAERSK was to build a container Trans shipment Depot in Takoradi and this facility will be the biggest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.
He announced CTTC was also building the biggest spaghetti production factory in Tema. Government has given approval for the first diamond-cutting plant by a private company and the training of personnel for the facility has already begun.
Gold Fields Ghana has also given 5kg of gold to the college of Jewellery in Accra for training and the department of jewellery in KNUST and the ministry of mines and forestry is establishing a jewellery village in Tema.
To achieve all these, the government introduced the presidential special initiative (PSI), which is a key pillar of government's vision for the development of the private sector.
According to the minister, market reforms alone would not get Ghana to its destination.
The government, according to the minister, recognizes the problem to be partly one of time lag, as the impact of the market reforms may not be immediately manifested.
The PSIs were therefore conceived in 2001 as growth poles to address this dilemma by fast tracking the growth and development of targeted sectors, while implementing the much-needed market reforms whose impact may be slow in coming.
He further said there were four-PSI areas presently implemented. These, he said, were cassava starch, oil palm, salt, textiles and garments. New PSIs being explored include cashew, sorghum, cotton and maize.
Moreover, government has developed a policy framework for the PSIs that clearly articulate government's facilitation, handholding role and the private sector's role in implementation.