The Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA) has granted licences to 16 new companies with a combined investment value of $183 million to operate under the free zones programme.
They include Gold Coast Refinery, Juaben Oil Mills, Regency Salt Limited, Ramec Limited, Nurevas Food Ghana Limited and Karma Distillery Limited.
Others are Enviroplast Company Limited, Atlantic Life Services, Bassi International Limited and Melan Print and Packaging Limited.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GFZA, Mr Micheal Okyere Baafi, told the Daily Graphic in an interview on March 1,2018 that the licensing of the 16 companies was a novelty and underscored the government’s commitment to industrialise the economy.
The companies, he said, would be expected to venture into value added businesses and adhere to the law binding their operations under the programme to sell only 30 per cent of their manufactured products locally and export the remaining 70 per cent.
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Mr Okyere-Baafi said that was to boost the local manufacturing industry and increase the country’s gains from the export market.
“We have just added 16 companies to the programme and that is unprecedented. We hope to achieve a milestone within a year,” he said.
Mr Baafi indicated that the 2018 strategy of the authority was to change the face of the GFZA by creating autonomous offices, enhancing the quality of service delivery and introducing speed with regard to licensing application processes, exemption of application processes, visa application and renewal processes, as well as vehicle registration processes.
He said the GFZA would set up a new unit to focus on the oil sector by providing the needed expertise to companies in that sector to operate efficiently.
Free zone company
A free zone company can be located either in any of the export processing zones (EPZ) or anywhere in the country upon the approval of the GFZA. In essence, the whole country is accessible to potential investors who have the opportunity to use the free zones as focal points to produce goods and services for foreign markets.
The programme is designed to promote the processing and manufacturing of goods through the establishment of EPZs, and encourage the development of commercial and service activities at sea and airport areas.
Companies operating under the programme are entitled to both monetary and non-monetary incentives. The monetary incentives offered include 100 per cent exemption from the payment of direct and indirect duties and levies on all imports for production and exports from free zones, 100 per cent exemption from the payment of income tax on profits for 10 years which will not exceed eight per cent thereafter and total exemption from the payment of withholding taxes from dividends arising out of free zone investment.
With a focus of maximising the country’s benefit from the programme, some priority sectors have been identified by the GFZA for investments based on the comparative advantages of the country.
The priority sectors include agro food processing, cotton processing, textile manufacturing, ethnic beauty products, sea food processing and jewellery/handicraft production.
The rest are light industry/assembling plant, plastic products manufacturing, metal fabrication, ceramic tile manufacturing, and information & communication technology.