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AGI disagrees with Govt's decision not to protect local business against competition

BY: Samuel K. Obour

Minister at the Presidency in-charge of Private Sector Development, Mr Rashid Pelpuo

The government has served notice it will not yield to demands from indigenous businesses that it protects them from the effects of heightened competition arising from the activities of foreign companies and/or substitutes imported into the country.

Rather, it has advised them to endeavour to offer their best to enable them withstand the competition or at best, undo it.

The Minister at the Presidency in-charge of Private Sector Development, Mr Rashid Pelpuo, gave the hint at the Ghana Competitiveness Round Table in Accra.

The roundtable was organised by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and the Business Council for International Understanding (BCIU), a USA-based institution that assists businesses to build capacity and be competitive in their operations, for members of the two institutions to dialogue on how to improve competitiveness among local businesses.

While stressing the government’s resolve to support indigenous businesses to grow, the minister said, “you would have to keep growing yourselves rather than asking government to make laws that will protect you from foreign companies.”

“We are not going to support local businesses by making laws that will favour you and restrict foreign companies from competing,” Mr Pelpuo, who is also the NDC MP for Wa Central, said at the function. 

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The President of AGI, Nana Owusu Afari, however, disagreed, explaining that local businesses ought to be assisted by the government to enable them to build the necessary expertise and capacity needed to compete with their foreign counterparts.

Nana Afari said in an interview that leaving local businesses, which were often small in size and limited in expertise, to compete with multinationals will be unfair as it immediately puts them (the locals) at a disadvantage.

“What we are asking for is capacity building not for the government to protect us from competition.”

“Ghana is a developing country and we know it’s good to open our doors to investments but in doing that you have to be sure your own people are well equipped to withstand the competition that the foreigners bring.”

“If we are not well positioned to compete — capacity and expertise not enhanced —then we are automatically disadvantaged and unless you are able to address all these, then you cannot say that protectionism will not be an issue,” Nana Afari told the Daily Graphic.

Indigenous businesses have, for long, chided the government for failing to help them out of intense competition emanating from the influx of foreign companies and/or substitutes, some of which are often described as substandard , into the country.

Such occurrences, they often say, are inimical to their individual growth and, by extension, the overall growth of the industrial sector of the economy.

The Minister in-charge of Private Sector Development, however, explained that such thoughts needed to be shelved to enable local businesses concentrate on growing themselves for the competition ahead.

“You don’t look up to the government to protect you from competition, that is not fair and the government doesn't intend to do that,” he said.

Story: Maxwell Adombila Akalaare