Gov't to implement interventions for private sector

Vice President John Dramani Mahama on Saturday said government was working to implement specific interventions to promote widespread private sector led growth to create sustainable jobs to improve the quality of life of the citizenry. He said Ghana had experienced positive economic growth over the last 24 years, but the records indicated that the growth pattern was unevenly distributed in terms of its social impact, hence the need for bold decisions to address it. The Vice President was speaking at the 50th Anniversary Celebration and Awards Night of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) in Accra. The AGI, established in 1958, is the umbrella body of industries in Ghana, which engages in advocacy as well as dialogue with government and policy makers to shape the formulation and implementation of policies to promote and develop commerce in Ghana. Mr Mahama said although the country’s private sector was dominated by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), which trigger development, their potential could not be harnessed because they operated parallel to each other with very limited linkages. He said this had to change if the country was to make progress and directed Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Ghana Export Promotion Centre and the newly restructured National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI), which were the country’s focal point for promoting private sector development, to collaborate in order to bridge the skills gap and provide access to markets to make the SMEs and other Ghanaian businesses more competitive. He said government was aware of the challenges facing SMEs in accessing credit at low rates and added that financial intermediaries such as the Export Development Investment Fund and the yet to be established Agricultural Development Fund were in place to deal with the obstacles. The Vice President tasked the Ministries of Finance and Trade and Industry to find innovative means of working with financial institutions to address these challenges. Mr Mahama announced that government would restructure the Procurement Law to give opportunities to the Ghanaian private sector to benefit from procurement activities at all levels. He said it was government’s belief that using the state’s purchasing power to promote growth and development of Ghanaian private sector was critical to stimulate growth. On agriculture, the Vice President said about 40 irrigation dams would be rehabilitated to promote all- year -round farming particularly in the three northern regions. He said government was also in negotiations with Brazil to acquire 2,000 tractors and implements for further distribution to farmers nationwide to enhance their activities. Mr Mahama said government’s policy was to encourage the introduction and growth of medium and large scale commercial agriculture. He gave the assurance that interventions such as the provision of subsidized tractors and farm implements, fertilizers and improved seeds among other things would be sustainable. Mr Tony Oteng Gyasi, President of the AGI appealed to the government to implement policies contained in its 2008 manifesto no matter the odds. He endorsed government’s programme to restructure and strengthen the NBSSI to co-ordinate efforts and foster the growth of the SMEs. Awards were presented to companies, institutions and individuals who helped to sustain the growth of the AGI for the past 50 years.