Govt picks Graphic to produce paper
The government has started engagements with the Graphic Communications Group Ltd (GCGL) for the integrated news giant and publishing house to produce paper for the local market.
The move is part of a raft of measures to support and build local capacity to produce items whose imports cost the country in excess of $10 billion every year.
Presenting the 2023 Budget and Economic Statement to Parliament yesterday, the Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, said the papers to be produced by the GCGL, which publishes the Daily Graphic, Graphic Business, The Mirror, Graphic Sports, Graphic Showbiz, Junior Graphic and Graphic News Plus, would be sourced from the by-products of locally cultivated rice in a proposed economic enclave at Asutuare in the Greater Accra Region.
“Mr Speaker, we have also initiated discussions with the Graphic Communication Group Limited to explore the feasibility of producing paper locally, using the by-products of the cultivated rice in the economic enclave at Asutuare as raw material,” he said.
He said it was envisaged that the local substitute would replace what was currently imported, thereby reducing the import bill on paper and creating more jobs.
“It is envisaged that the imports of paper will be replaced and more jobs created,” he said.
The Finance Minister said the country currently had the capacity to locally produce items that accounted for about 45 per cent of the value of annual imports, including rice, fish, sugar, poultry, cement, pharmaceuticals, jute bags, computers and so on.
Local production capacity
He said Ghana’s heavy dependence on imports placed tremendous pressure on the Ghana cedi, creating an unfavourable balance of payments position.
He explained that on the average, the country’s import bill exceeded $10 billion annually, spent on importing a diverse range of items that included iron, steel, aluminium, palm oil, fertiliser, toilet roll, toothpick and fruit juices.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the government would target those products for import substitution by supporting the private sector, through partnerships with existing and prospective businesses, to expand, rehabilitate and establish manufacturing plants targeted at producing these selected items.
He told Parliament that the government would also support the aggressive production of strategic substitutes.
“We will also support large-scale agricultural and agribusiness interventions through the Development Bank, Ghana,” he said.
He also pointed out that the government would introduce policies for the protection and incubation of newly formed domestic industries.
“This is to allow them to make the goods produced here competitive with imported goods,” Mr ofori-Atta said.
Bolstering export capacity
The Finance Minister also pointed out plans by the government to leverage the Ghana COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalisation of Enterprises Support (CARES) Obaatan pa project to bolster the productive and export capacity of the private sector.
To that end, he said, an economic enclave project, with focus on providing support for the cultivation of up to 110,000 acres of land in the Greater Accra, Ashanti, Central, Savannah and Oti regions, was being pursued.
He said that initiative would expand the production of and productivity in rice, tomato, maize, vegetables and poultry and was being led and coordinated by the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), in collaboration with other government institutions.
“Mr Speaker, consistent with the private sector-led approach, the programme will engage interested private sector actors to expand agricultural production and processing in the Asutuare-Tsopoli Economic Enclave area, based on a partnership framework.
“The same approach will be adopted for the lands secured in the Ashanti, Central, Savannah and Oti regions,” he said.
In addition to the enclave project, Mr ofori-Atta said, the Ghana CARES programme in 2023 would continue to offer catalytic support in some targeted areas.
He added that the programme would work with the Development Bank Ghana to provide funding for interested and targeted farmers and support the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) to adopt and deploy the farmer registration database for the farmer input subsidy programme.