Accra, Nov. 23, GNA - Mr Joseph Henry Mensah, Senior Minister, on Wednesday challenged the Association of Ghana Industries to lead Ghana in her quest for a middle-income country in the next decade. Addressing members of the Association at its 45th Annual General Meeting (AGM) in Accra, he said, the Government's agenda was not to be in business, but to create the enabling environment for small and medium scale businesses to operate.
He said: "If small and medium scale businesses are assisted within the right environment to grow, the general economy benefits. It is for such a reason that the 2006 Budget was made a business friendly one, in keeping faith with Ghanaian businesses."
The AGM is under the theme: "Business Associations and Their Role in Mobilizing the Private Sector for Effective Interventions in National Development."
Mr Mensah said the time had come for Ghana to move from just a buying and selling economy to an industrialised one that would be able to penetrate the West Africa Sub-Region.
This he noted could be achieved by changing the mindset of all members of society, with the AGI leading the crusade in the propagation of the Government's vision of an industrialised economy. "Ghana can achieve this because it has role models in the Asian giants such as China and Malaysia to learn from," he said, adding that such economies also began as agricultural based. Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, Minister of Regional Cooperation and NEPAD, said the AGI had the capacity to penetrate the Sub-Region if "only members were desirous to do so.
"You need to redirect your energies toward the Sub-Region where a viable potential market exist instead of focusing on the European markets and the USA all the time," he said.
He said most countries within the Sub-Region were becoming more and more peaceful with emerging economies that were ready to do business with neighbouring countries. It was, therefore, important for Ghanaian businesses to take advantage of such economies. Dr Apraku urged members of AGI to liaise with members of similar associations in other countries within the Sub-Region to help to reduce the barriers across the boarders.
Mr Kwadwo Asiedu Affram, Deputy Minister for Trade and Industry, who read a speech on behalf of the Minister, Mr Alan Kyeremanten said, to get the economy to grow at the expected 5.8 per cent in 2006, called for hard work on the part of all, particularly industry.
He said with the upcoming trade fair in February / March 2006 under the theme: "Networking to Unlock Ghana's Trade Potentials," another challenge had been thrown to the owners of production who happen to be the AGI members.
"It demands of you the ability to prove to the outside world that industry in Ghana can be self-sustaining.
"It also means Ghana has all it takes to realise its goal as a leading agro-industry in Africa by the year 2015," Mr Affram said. Mr Prince Kofi Kludjeson, AGI President, praising the Government for the fiscal policy measures designed to offer relief to businesses, said the objective of the AGI was to move the industrial sector from the third to the first position in terms of contribution to GDP to attain 37 per cent by 2007.
He called on the Government to deal with the unfair competition from importation by coming out with an appropriate policy and administrative measures to curtail the unbridled importation.