Save local industries - Employers, labour to government
The Ghana Employers Association (GEA) and the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) have called on the government to provide adequate support and protection for local industries to prevent them from collapse, and subsequent job losses for the citizenry.
They also stressed the importance to subsidise the rising cost of petroleum products and utility services which had culminated in hardships for both local industries and Ghanaians.
Local manufacturing concerns could be supported through incentive packages such as tax holidays and banning the importation of goods and services for which there were substitutes to safeguard factories and employees, they said.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the GEA, Alex Frimpong, and the Deputy Secretary General of the GFL, Kenneth Koomson, made the calls on the sidelines of a budget forum in Accra yesterday.
The two executives further indicated the need for the 2023 budget to address those major issues to bring quick relief to the people, as the budget was expected to be read in a couple of weeks.
The forum, which was organised by the GEA, was aimed at collating the views of participants for inclusion in the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the government.
The event was attended by representatives from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the GFL, other labour unions, industry players, among others.
Mr Frimpong said the 2023 budget must focus on reducing, to the barest minimum, the importation of food items which impacted negatively on the country's foreign exchange earnings.
“We all eat, take drugs and some essential products; so we need to identify those food items and medicines that we need in our everyday lives for us to boost local production to reduce the pressure on foreign exchange,” he said.
The CEO indicated that if the government could address that fundamental issue, it would ultimately help solve about 60 per cent of the economic challenges facing the nation at the moment.
On revenue mobilisation, he urged Ghanaians to cooperate with the government by honouring their tax obligations and called on the government to be more accountable to the people.
Mr Frimpong said the GEA expected the government to use the upcoming budget to stabilise the economy and create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive, saying the business environment had been characterised by “uncertainties”.
He said if local industries were not adequately supported, it would affect business confidence in the economy and most businesses might not be able to retain their workers.
Mr Koomson, for his part, stressed the need for the government to include in the budget policy interventions that would lessen the burden on Ghanaians, instead of imposing more taxes.
“This is not the time for the government to continue to introduce measures that will further burden the ordinary Ghanaian. Local industries must be supported,” he noted.
The Secretary-General of the TUC, Dr Anthony Yaw Baah, in his remarks, entreated the government, employers and labour unions to come together to find solutions to the current economic challenges facing the country.
He equally urged the citizenry to show “compassion” at this crucial time and support efforts to help the country come out of the challenges.
An economist with the GEA, Kingsley Laar, and a researcher at the TUC, Obed Asare, both made presentations on the expectations of the two organisations in the 2023 budget.
They called for steps to ensure fiscal consolidation, enhance revenue mobilisation, review the benchmark value policy, automate the collection of property taxes, among others.
Other issues they wanted the budget to address were the stabilisation of the exchange rate and for the government to slow down on external borrowing.