Need to re-define state and private sector relationship – Blankson

Mr. George Blankson, Commissioner General of Ghana Revenue Agencies Authority (GRAA), on Wednesday called for the re-definition of the working links among private sector operators and the State in modern terms for outmost benefit.

He said as the role of private sector in the country continued to develop, it must be recognised as force for growth and a major contributor towards poverty reduction.

“Government and all stakeholders must therefore play active role in building favourable environment for the investment and promotion of regulatory frameworks and legal business frameworks for the growth of the sector”, Mr. Blankson stated at a business roundtable in Accra.

He therefore called on government to place great emphasis on improving the business environment, and on the institutional and human capacity development necessary for increased trade and investment.

The discussion under the theme: “Maximising Real Benefits from the Private Sector for Economic Advancement,” was organised by the Centre for Freedom and Accuracy (CFA) a non-governmental media organisation dedicated to the promotion and defence of free enterprise in Ghana.

Mr. Blankson noted that: “It’s not enough for the State to tag the private sector as the engine of growth of the economy and yet give lip services…the State must now take active measures to facilitate and promote free enterprise regime for growth”.

“As the private sector is not only serving as the engine of growth but as the field from which the bulk of taxes are reaped from, you cannot reap where you have not cultivated…government should not only be interested in reaping taxes but must develop the private sector to grow,” he added.

Mr Blankson said the creation of enabling environment for free movement of capital, labour, goods and services would create a heavier demand on the private sector to produce quality goods and services.

Mr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi, Chief Executive Officer of Tropical Cable and Conductor Limited, speaking on the topic: “Challenges of Public Private Sector Interface”, called on policy makers to distinguish between the productive private sector and the economic rent reaping private sector.

“To do all this thinking through and design of policy, we need micro economists…these are economists who study the subject at disaggregated levels as distinct from the macro economists who tell us daily about interest rates, GDP, income per capita, exchange rates and inflation”.

“Micro economists would look at different, smaller economic activity sectors and advise us on how to maximise benefits…from tariff advise to filling dumping charges at the appropriate international tribunal, they would help us maximise benefits from the private sector,” he said.

Mr. Oteng-Gyasi suggested the attachment of qualified micro economists to all the ministries to assist them in decision making “micro economists would help minimise rent providing opportunities and increase the productive private sector”.

He noted that in addition to regulatory activities, State institutions such as Ghana Standards Board, Food and Drugs Board should create departments to assist businesses to comply with regulations.

Mr. Ato Ampiah, Chief Executive Officer of Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), said survival of the State depended on both the micro and macro economic indicators, hence the need to develop both sectors.

He called for greater collaboration between the public sector and the private sector operators.

Mr. Andrews Awuni, Executive Director of Centre for Freedom and Accuracy said inputs from the discussion would be forwarded to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning as contributions towards the preparation of the 2011 Government’s budget.

However, he questioned the role of the State in the development of the private sector.

“Does the State wait for a young lady to start a hair dressing business and then bingo, the State walks in there and says pay your tax or is there a contribution that the State has to make to ensure that the business is established and flourishes in a sustainable manner so that the nation can then almost perpetually receive multiple benefit.

“Is a farmer not supposed to take interest in his crops, lavish attention on them for the simply reasons of harvesting…is the relationship between the State and the private sector about fees and taxes only or can we take a special interest in the work of these risks bearers because like we ourselves have admitted, they are the engine of our growth?” he asked.

The roundtable was attended by private sector operators, regulators, policymakers and cross section of the public.

Source: GNA

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