Restructure economy around agriculture - Graphic MD urges policy makers
The Managing Director (MD) of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Ato Afful, has identified agriculture and its value chain as a lever to stimulate the rest of the economy.
“Agriculture broadly, and agri-processing specifically, can act as a lever to assist in stimulating the rest of the economy because it creates demand for fixed goods, public goods, road networks, infrastructure, such as storage facilities, processing plants, harbours, among other things,” he said.
Mr Afful said this at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting held at the Labadi Beach Hotel in Accra yesterday.
The event, the fourth and final for the year, was held on the theme: “17 Times too many! What should we stop doing and start doing as a people?”
Throwing more light on his call, Mr Afful said: “Agriculture can act as a catalyst to stimulate investment in these sectors, which will trigger other sectors in the various communities.”
He was of the strong belief that at the individual and or working group/cooperative level, beneficiaries of strategically targeted intervention programmes, consistently applied and reviewed for efficiency, had the direct benefit of being able to support themselves, feed their families, collaborate with others and provide education for their children.
“My view is, and it is invariably proven: when people are fed and kept busy, the noise will be filtered out,” he said.
“We need a lifestyle change, backed by real commitment and an endurance to stick to a plan that delivers this mandate,” he added.
Contributing to the debate on how to avoid resorting to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) again, an international economic consultant, Dr Emmanuel Oteng Kumah, said the economy was suffering the consequences of a country living beyond its means, resulting in the recurrence of fiscal and monetary challenges.
He explained that a programme with the IMF would earn the country credibility and stabilise the exchange rate for sustained growth to resume.
Dr Kumah advised the citizenry and businesses to prepare for belt tightening in the coming days, as efforts to stabilise the economy would come with some trade-offs.
No new tax
For his part, an economist and Professor of Finance at the University of Ghana, Professor Godfred Bokpin, said there was no need for the introduction of new taxes in the 2023 budget, which is expected to be laid before Parliament later this month.
“If you look at Ghana, that is where we are. If you pick all the tax handles, you will see that we have not exhausted our potential. If you pick Value Added Tax (VAT), the gap between how much we could actually get from it and what we are getting now is very wide,” he explained.
He also called for a restructuring of the country’s revenue generation activities.
“As a country, we are not willing to pay for the price that will bring development inclusively. Development is knowledge intensive; we have the knowledge, but to what extent do we put knowledge at the forefront of development in terms of evidence-based, policy prescription and implementation?” he asked.
“There is a big divergence between the knowledge economy and the political actors who drive development in the country,” Prof. Bokpin said.
The acting Editor of the Graphic Business, Charles Benoni Okine, in his welcome address, urged all Ghanaians to rally behind the government to find solutions to the country’s dire economic problems.
“We need not fold our hands and watch because we are in this together. This is the time for us all, particularly experts in various fields, to take the lead in proffering pragmatic solutions that can be incorporated into the 2023 budget for action,” he said.
Mr Okine said lessons from the current challenges should guide the country in formulating policies and implementing them to prevent the country from resorting to the IMF after the 17th edition.