The Minister of Business Development, Mr Ibrahim Awal, has emphasised the government’s commitment to make the country a business hub through a number of measures to improve the economic environment.
“It is our top priority to make Ghana a number one business nation, at least in West Africa,” Mr Awal said.
He made the assertion last Thursday during an interaction with chief executive officers (CEOs) of various companies who are also members of the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC) to deliberate on strategies to drive businesses in Ghana.
SME, large corporations
Established in 2016, UKGCC is to facilitate and promote the ever-increasing need for collaboration between small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and large multi-national corporations operating in the United Kingdom (UK) and Ghana.
The meeting, which involved about 20 members of the UKGCC, from the telecoms, energy, logistics, finance, legal and business associations, also created a platform for the CEOs to share their concerns and challenges with the minister.
It was also an opportunity for Mr Awal to clarify issues concerning local businesses and ways to improve the Ghanaian economy.
According to him, “a criteria has been rolled out for the implementation of the ‘One-istrict, one-factory’ initiative as part of the government’s strategy to build the economy. This initiative is in view of the local raw materials and employing the local people from these areas.”
$100 million employment plan
The business development minister also mentioned that his ministry would launch a National Employment and Implementation Plan, a $100 million capacity-building programme that would equip the youth in various fields to acquire entrepreneurial skills.
“Capacity building is important to us in improving businesses. We also believe this will curb unemployment and make Ghana an entrepreneurial nation,” he added.
Mr Awal further indicated that 70 per cent of public funded projects would be given to Ghanaians out of which 10 per cent would be directed to startups with tax reliefs.
He agreed with participants on the importance of infrastructure in growing businesses, reiterating that “infrastructure is key and very important to us when we talk about business growth”, he added.
On how the government would fund projects, Mr Awal indicated that in addition to the realignment of taxes, the government would also work with the banks, business associations and the private sector to execute the initiatives, many of which were private sector-led.
He assured the business community of the government’s plan to tackle inefficiency in public institutions through public sector reforms, and encouraged participants to consult his ministry should they have any challenges.
Protect local businesses
The CEO of UKGCC, Mr Tony Burkson, commended the government for initiatives to improve the business environment but appealed to the government to implement a policy that would protect local businesses.
Mr Burkson also revealed that “the UKGCC is setting up a ‘Tax and Commercial Law’ committee to help hold the government and office bearers accountable.
Mr Edward Addo Jr and Madam Linda Vasnani of Winmat Limited and Consolidated Shipping Agencies Limited (Conship) respectively, declared the government’s new policies as positive and encouraging, and expressed the hope that they would be implemented for constructive results.
They both referred to difficulties in funding projects as a major challenge in their businesses.