2022 budget must give a big push on entrepreneurial drive and TVET education – Economist

Takoradi, An Economist, Mr. Emmanuel Wiafe, has encouraged the Government to pay attention to skills training, entrepreneurship and Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) as a solution to the unemployment situation in the country.

Speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) ahead of the presentation of the 2022 budget, Mr. Wiafe, admonished the Government to give a big push on TVET education in the 2022 budget.

He said the Government must set up Funds and offer financial support to graduates of TVET to create sustainable business and employ more people.

This, he opined would go a long way to produce entrepreneurs who would not rely on the Government for employment in the public sector, but do their own businesses.

For its sustainability, he urged the Government to push and pursue policies that would create an ease environment for businesses to operate.

Additionally, Mr. Wiafe, a Lecturer at the Takoradi campus of the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), also want the Government to review taxes on petroleum products downwards or removed to ease the pressure on the economy for businesses thrive.

He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic was still around and stressed the need for the Government to put in place policies that would aid the smooth recovery of the economy from the pandemic.

“We are still not out of the COVID-19 situation, we need policies for a smooth recovery of the economy, the Government must keep supporting small and medium enterprises to stand on their feet,” he stated.

He noted that though Ghana’s economy kept growing, the country could not own the growth because major contributors to the growth were foreigners.

The only way to own the growth, he said, was for the Government to support small and medium enterprises to a level where they could become multinational companies.

“The Ghanaian economy has been projected to grow between five to seven percent in 2022, but until we own the growth, people will not feel it,” he said.

The Economist said he expected the 2022 budget to lay more emphasis on the Government’s “Obatanpa” care project to cushion citizens against the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On infrastructural development, Mr. Wiafe urged the Government to invest in the railway sector to link Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi to open up the transport network of the country.

That, not withstanding, he said the Government must also continue with its road infrastructure project, because most of the road network in the country were in poor condition.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Association of Ghana Industries calls for targeted review of benchmark value on imports

Accra, The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) has called for a targeted review of the 50 per cent benchmark value to support the government’s industrialization drive.

It said the policy in its current form ran counter to the government’s own Industrial initiatives and had dire consequences for sustainable job creation prospects and the stability of the cedi.

“Instead of the universal application of the policy to all imports, AGI believes imports which come to compete with locally manufactured products be exempted from the policy,” Mr Humphrey Ayim-Darkey, Vice-President of AGI in charge of SMEs, told a press conference to announce their demands ahead of the presentation of the 2022 Budget statement.

Mr Ayim-Darke said it was important for the government to cushion local products for which there is local production capacity.

The government declared a 50% reduction on import values at the ports in 2019 to make trade through the ports more attractive and enhance revenue mobilization.

“These expectations were not met barely two years into the implementation,” he said, adding that it had instead weakened the local industries.

He urged the government to maintain the benchmark policy for manufacturers for their raw material imports to help grow the real economy.

“We support economic cooperation and multi-lateral trade, the reason why Ghana has signed a number of trade agreements.

But we also note that signing of trade agreements such as AfCFTA and the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA), alone will not guarantee the
gains we desire.”

These agreements also come with competition emanating from their duty-free quota-free clauses. With the advent of these trade agreements, it becomes more crucial to support Industry with the right policies in order to scale up local production capacity.

He said the benchmark policy had led to unfair competition and local manufacturing was collapsing with the influx of finished imports, which were equally enjoying the 50% reduction in their benchmark value.

Some of these imports to Ghana already enjoy significant export rebates from their countries of origin.

“Locally manufactured products including those for which Ghana already has local production capacity and comparative advantage have been under serious threat from imports,” Mr Ayim-Darke said.

The current implementation of the benchmark value also posed a threat to Ghanaian industries participation in the AfCFTA.

“The influx of cheaper imports is making the local production highly uncompetitive and discourage investment in the affected sectors,” he said.
Citing the example of the Palm Oil industry, he said the reduction in benchmark value of imported refined vegetable cooking oil would discourage potential investors for the oil palm sector.

Ghana cannot become a net exporter of crude & refined palm oil products to further increase its foreign income reserves. About $100m will be needed to import Crude Palm Oil annually if this policy persists.

He said a number of local rice brands were under pressure from imports, adding Avnash Industries, which has a 500MT of paddy per day rice mill located in near northern Ghana, was out of operation for about nine months on account of influx of rice imports coming to compete unfairly with local rice production.

He said the government’s commissioned Savelugu and Sefwi Akontombra
rice factories with investments totaling about GHc14 million risked becoming redundant if such large rice imports persist.

Mr Ayim-Darke said under the current circumstances manufacturers were finding it difficult to retain their employees with such influx of imports at cheap prices displacing their products on the market.

“The benchmark reduction policy in its current form could worsen the unemployment situation.

The future of our country and our youth should guide us in our quest to
promote policies that spur economic growth, industrialization and sustainable job creation.”

We wish to emphasize that AGI is not calling for a total withdrawal of the policy but rather a
selective application of the policy to serve a better purpose for the entire Ghanaian economy, he added.

Mr Ayim-Darke said the impact assessment and review of the benchmark policy must be done, taking cognizance the overarching framework of an industrial transformation agenda and fair-trade practices.

Mr Seth Twum-Akwaboah, Chief Executive Officer of Association of Ghana Industries, said the Association was also concerned about stability in the macro economic indicators such as the exchange rate, inflation and interest rate to help in planning.

He also called on the government to review the straight levy policy as it was unsupportive of the manufacturing sector.

Mr Twum-Akwaboah called for the extension of the zero tax regime for local producers of textiles.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana formally agrees to host 7th OACPS meeting

Accra, Ghana has signed a host-country agreement with the Secretariat of the Organization of African, Caribbean, and Pacific States (OACPS) to host its 7th meeting of Ministers in charge of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Madam Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, signed for Ghana while Ms Cristelle Pratt signed on behalf of her organisation.

The meeting, set to come off from April 5 to 8, 2022, will be attended by policy makers, practitioners, and other stakeholders within the fisheries and aquaculture sector.

The overall goal of the meeting, officially launched in Ghana on August 24, 2021, is to provide a forum for the engagement of the highest-level policy and decision makers on fisheries and aquaculture resources development to provide strategic policy direction and guidance.

It is also to improve and strengthen fisheries governance and contribute to the overall sustainable development of members of the OACPS.

Madam Botchwey said following right on the heels of COP26, the upcoming meeting on fisheries and aquaculture would continue the discussions on the UN SDG 14 – life below water at the UN Ocean Conference to be co-hosted by Kenya and Portugal, as well as the seventh ‘Our Ocean Conference’ to be hosted by Palau next year.

The visit of the OACPS Assistant Secretary and her team, she said was the first in a number of visits expected from their secretariat to assess Ghana’s preparedness towards hosting the meeting.

As part of the activities of the visit, Madam Botchwey said the team would inspect conference and hotel facilities and hold meetings with various stakeholders.

“We expect the report of this visit to highlight the strengths as well as the weaknesses in our preparations to help us put adequate measures in place towards a successful event next year,” she added.

On her part, Ms Pratt said although fisheries have high nutritional value and contributed to economic growth, harmful fishery practices that were unregulated as well as pollution and climate biodiversity and COVID-19 placed fish lives under pressure and undermined production in marine life.

She said it was a cross-cutting challenge that could not be dealt with by one country, even if the country intensified its local initiatives.

The meeting would, therefore, deepen the relationship with member states, enable them to share experiences, and promote good ocean governance, she said.

She commended Ghana for signing the agreement, saying, it was a significant milestone that would ensure that the objectives of the meeting were met.

Ms Pratt gave an assurance to work closely with the Ghanaian Ambassador to Belgium, Mrs Sena Siaw-Boateng, and other stakeholders to successfully implement the meeting.

Mrs Mavis Hawa Koomson, the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, said the signing of the agreement was a confirmation of Ghana’s acceptance to host the meeting, reiterating that it was a crucial milestone that Ghana would take advantage of.

She gave an assurance that the Ministry would continue to collaborate with the OACPS Secretariat and others to ensure that Ghana made a position impact at the programme.

Ghana and many parts of the world have for years been battling unregulated, uncontrolled, and unassessed fishing activities that affect the blue economy and marine life.

Meanwhile, marine life is a source of revenue generation, health promotion, and hunger reduction.

This called for the need to organise the meeting to deliberate for strategies to control the operations of stakeholders in the fishery and aquaculture sector.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana to receive 20 per cent equity share for refining gold locally

Accra,- Ghana will receive 20 per cent free equity share for gold refined locally when Royal Gold Ghana Limited begins operation this year.

Currently, all the gold produced by mining companies in the country are refined outside, therefore, the government gains nothing from gold refined abroad.

In that vein, the government entered into a public-private partnership with an Indian company, Rosy Royal Limited, to refine gold in Ghana.

The agreement states that the government of Ghana will receive a 20 per cent equity share in the gold refined by the Indian Company locally, while the Indian investor, which built the refinery gets 80 per cent.

“It is the cost of refining gold locally which we will gain 20 per cent free equity share but the gold belonged to the mining companies.

“In fact, we do not gain anything when the gold is refined outside and so as part of efforts to providing refinery solution, the government of Ghana entered into agreement with the Indian Investor to build a refinery here. It also formed part of government’s policy to at least refine 30 per cent of all gold produced in Ghana,” he added.

Mr Wisdom Gomashie, a Personal Assistant to Deputy Minister of Lands and Natural Resources in charge of Mines, Mr George Mireku Duker, told the Ghana News Agency in an interview on Wednesday.

Mr Gomashie stated that the Indian Investor invested an estimated amount of $25 million in constructing the gold refinery, which is located at the Diamond House on the premises of the Precious Minerals Marketing Company in Accra.

Mr Gomashie explained that the Indian Investor would also pay corporate taxes to the government and employ Ghanaians and later the percentage of equity share between the parties would be 50%-50% after the Investor has operated the refinery for some time.

The government through the Precious Minerals Marketing Company entered a joint partnership with Rosy Royal Limited, an Indian company, to establish a gold refinery that has vested state equity.

The refinery will be known as the Royal Gold Ghana Limited, which can refine 400 kilogrammes of gold daily.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Businesses, individuals count loss after tidal waves

Accra,- Some businesses and individuals in the Keta and Ketu South municipalities are counting their losses following Sunday’s tidal waves that hit the area.

“Meet Me there Lodge” at Dzita in the Volta Region, a popular tourism destination for many Ghanaians and expatriates, saw its newly constructed beach front suites destroyed by the sea water.

In a statement issued on its official Facebook page, officials of the Lodge said they had shut down the facility to repair the damage caused.

“The sea caused severe damage to many homes in the community and in the Lodge. Thankfully no one was injured and the damage to the Lodge is repairable,” the statement said.

The Lodge, the Ghana News Agency gathered, is also refunding monies to clients who had booked the place for this week.

Some fishmongers are also out of job temporarily because fishermen are not going to sea.

Venor, a fishmonger at Kedzikope in the Keta Municipality, said her fish processing equipment was destroyed by the waves.

Atsu Avorga, 65, a fisherman, said he could only go fishing after fixing his house, submerged by sea water.

The local markets are less active with the disaster coupled with the delay in response by the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), being the talk of town.

Some schools are also said to have been closed with hundred of people in the two municipalities being rendered homeless after the tidal waves swept through their homes.

Residents of Abutiakope, Kedzikope and Keta Central who were largely affected, were left with nothing to salvage.

Mr Maxwell Lugudor, the Municipal Chief Executive of Ketu South, in an interview with the GNA, said plans were in place to evacuate the affected persons to a safer place.

NADMO also promised to give some relief items to the affected persons on Tuesday, November 09, 2021.

Source: Ghana News Agency

Ghana in a hopeless state under Akufo-Addo’s cooked economic figures – Mahama

Former President John Mahama has said Ghana is in a state of despair, following the failure on the part of the Akufo-Addo government to fulfill promises made to Ghanaians.

Speaking in an interview on TV XYZ, Mr. Mahama stated that he discovered the hopelessness after touring the country to thank Ghanaians for their votes in the 2020 election.

“We’re in a state of despair; people are sad, people have regretted because this is not what the government promised them,” he told Tonton Sansan host Prince Minkah.

“Before the elections, they did a lot of things, i.e., free water, free light, free this and they spent GHS11.9 billion of the COVID funds from March to December and a lot went into convincing people…They gave small business loans via MoMo of about GHS2,000 but today, we are all paying that back,” he stated.

Mahama’s interview on November 9, 2021, was to speak to Ghanaians ahead of his last ‘thank you’ tour which is scheduled to be in the Greater Accra region on Tuesday, 9 November 2021.

Expressing his disappointment in the Akufo-Addo government, Mr Mahama said the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the lies of the government, blaming Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta for “cooking” figures to make the country’s economy look good regardless of the hardships Ghanaians are grappling with.

“They said the economy was resilient and the Vice-President said if there was any external shock, for six months, Ghana will not need any external intervention. But within two weeks of COVID, we went to the IMF for money. What happened to that resilient economy?” he quizzed.

“The economy had no buffers and, so, within two weeks of a COVID situation, [there was a] lockdown; we were begging the IMF for money…, so, it shows there’s a certain culture of lying about things and all that to deceive Ghanaians and we can see that it has all unravelled and the truth is here for all to see,” he added.

“Very soon, the Finance minister will be presenting the budget and you’ll realise the economy is in tatters,” the 2020 flagbearer of the NDC noted.

 

Source: Modern Ghana

GIPC, UNDP engage stakeholders on SDG Investor Map Utilisation to Channel Investment for SDGs

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), held its first breakfast meeting on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Investor Map utilization, with the goal of channelling investments into major investment opportunity areas identified in the SDG Investor Map for Ghana.

The SDG Investor Map which was initiated by the UNDP was introduced earlier this year to help steer capital into inclusive and sustainable investments in key economic sectors. The breakfast meeting focused on the health and ICT sectors.

According to the CEO of the GIPC Yofi Grant, “as a nation seeking development and the attainment of the SDGs, we are recognizing the need for a new global development strategy, which calls for stronger public-private partnerships to overcome the pre-existing yearly SDG financial gap of $200 billion in Africa. As such, we as government and the GIPC will actively support and guide investors who seek to invest in any of the priority sectors outlined in the SDG Investor Map to propel national development”.

“Enormous opportunity exists in the ICT sector and health sector that prospective investors can tap into to make profitable gains while making positive contributions to society, the environment and the economy at large”, Yofi Grant added.

The Map provides market intelligence for private sector investors, to channel finance towards development needs, the attainment of the SDGs and national priority sectors.

The UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, Dr Angela Lusigi noted that the SDG Investor Map Pipeline Builder tool, an intermediary that streamlines the investment origination process to drive more capital to SDG focused SMEs in emerging markets, has successfully identified a base value of USD 39 million worth of SME investments in Ghana. This, she said, is within six months up to September 2021 under the pilot scheme, and there is a potential for an additional USD 15.5 million. She pledged UNDP’s continued commitment and support towards making Ghana an investment destination of choice, and to support the SDG Investor Maps as a vehicle for strategic development investment.

“We know that the task to bridge Ghana’s current SDG financing gap of approximately USD 43 billion a year is daunting, but we remain resolute in our quest to support the mobilization of innovative financing for the implementation of the SDGs,” ~ noted Dr Lusigi.

For Ghana, the SDG Investor Map provided information on 12 Investment Opportunity Areas (IOAs) across 5 priority sectors namely, Agriculture, Infrastructure, Technology & Communications, Healthcare and Consumer Goods.

The meeting saw a gathering of industry stakeholders and investors to discuss how to mobilize and channel capital into the development of the two sectors.

Institutions present at the event include the Ghana Medical Association, Ministry of Health, Ghana National Chamber of Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Ghana, the Ghana Pharmaceutical Chamber, Pharmacy Private Sector Hospitals, ICT firms, Members of the Chamber of Telecommunications, Financial institutions, as well as Government agencies such as Ghana Free Zones Board and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority.

UNDP and GIPC are in partnership to take forward the investment intelligence gathered to all relevant stakeholders to shape the policy and business environment and to further attract investment to impact lives and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

Source: Modern Ghana

Traders appeal to STMA to speed up construction of new market extension

Takoradi, The relocated traders from Takoradi Market Circle have called on the Sekondi/Takoradi Metropolitan Assembly to expedite action on the construction of an extension of the market along the New Takoradi road.

 

This, they said, would ensure that all trading activities were centralized to increase patronage for the mutual benefits of stakeholders.

The traders who made the appeal in an interview with the Ghana News Agency (GNA) questioned why work on the market extension along the New Takoradi stretch had delayed.

They said, “some traders did not get a space in the temporary market when the STMA ejected us and were promised the extension, but it has been seven months and nothing seems to be happening.

“These traders are now selling around the market circle which is preventing customers from coming into this place”, they added.

Mr. Richard Ocran who corroborated the narration added that customers also complained about transportation to and from the market after shopping since there was no taxi rank and car parking space in the market.

He added, “The tricycles, which used to operate in the market have been stopped by city authorities…the market is not a highway, they were helping customers cart our goods and that of our customers, but city authorities have stopped them…when customers park their private cars too then they are locked by city authorities.”

Additionally, Mr. Ocran said a section of the traders were still allowed by the STMA to sell around the main market circle area.

With barely two Months to the Christmas festivities, most of the traders in the Metropolis expressed pessimism at cashing in on the Christmas season, saying the trend of patronage had not been encouraging.

As of 1200 noon, Mr Ocran, a textiles seller, had not made any sales and lamented how relocating them to the new market had affected their sales coupled with increment in ground rent.

Some of them lamented that they could not re-stock their shops if the trend continued.

“By this time last year, the market had begun booming, but I cannot say same for this year. Maybe it is because of the construction of the new market circle”, Madam Helena Boah said.

Madam Beatrice Obo, a clothes and footwear seller, however was optimistic that sales would pick up in the coming weeks as it had been the case over the years.

Ms. Hannah Mensah, a customer who had come to buy clothes encouraged the Government to increase or cushion workers to be able to live comfortably especially in the yuletide.

She also noted the need for the cedi to be stable for importers to have good currency for imports to drive the economy particularly during the Christmas period.

 

Source: Ghana News Agency