Some executive members of industry and commerce have mentioned unfair competition from cheap imports, a slow growth in industry and the lack of access to international markets, as the major operational difficulties facing them.
The business people, made up of the executive members of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), raised these concerns at a meeting with the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, in Accra.
They suggested various options they thought could be used in addressing the problems, with the hope that the minister will use his office to help address them.
The meeting, which was held behind closed doors, was the first to be held between the association and the minister after he had assumed office.
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A source at the meeting told the Daily Graphic that it “discussed a plethora of issues which had to do with the challenges of business and the industrial sector in the country.”
“We thought that because industry is under the umbrella of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, it doesn’t get the attention it deserves and asked the minister to place more focus on industry because that is the engine of growth in this country,” the source said.
Before retiring to the closed door session, Mr Iddrisu, who is also the NDC Member of Parliament for the Tamale South, pledged to work with industry to “ease the constraints facing businesses in this country.”
“It is not government business to do business. What it has to do is to create a congenial atmosphere for those who can do business and that is what I have pledged to do,” he added.
The AGI, an advocacy group for businesses in the country, has over the years blamed governments for the myriad of problems facing businesses in the country, explaining that the government’s inability to limit imports, especially the cheap ones that compete with locally produced goods, boost access and reduce the cost of credit and stabilise utility supply among others as bases.
Such challenges, they often say, have acted to slow growth in the manufacturing sub sector of industry, while stifling the growth of local businesses.
At the meeting, the source said “we also explained that manufacturing is actually shrinking because the growth you see in the industry sector is actually coming from oil.”
“And that is not good because it is the manufacturing subsector that creates all the jobs in this country,” the source noted.
In the coming months, therefore, industry and the business community in general will be looking at what the minister will do to help cut back on imports while boosting growth in manufacturing for exports to rise.
He has already hinted of his intentions to review the law establishing the Export Development and Agriculture Investment Fund (EDAIF) to enable it “respond to the needs of industry.”
The minister pledged to be available for quarterly meetings with the AGI to listen to the concerns of businesses, something the president of the association, Nana Owusu Afari, said was laudable.
Story by Maxwell Adombila Akalaare