Government must take advantage of the stable macroeconomic environment to close the infrastructural gap for accelerated development, Mr Kwame Pianim, an economist, said on Tuesday March 22, 2011.
Speaking at the maiden breakfast meeting of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Ghana, Mr Pianim said the low rate of inflation and the relative stable exchange rate offered opportunity to the country to tap into the global market for funds to tackle the infrastructure deficit.
Besides, he said, commercial oil production gave the country a glimpse of hope as the oil proceeds could be leveraged for direct investment into areas such as roads, energy and housing, among other things.
However, Mr Pianim warned that heavy reliance on the oil sector at the expense of the other sectors could undermine economic growth and create problems for the country.
Nana Owusu Afari, the President of the Association of Ghana Industries, said a good business climate allowed businesses to operate with minimal interference from government, noting, however, that this was only possible when there were strong institutions to back the operations.
He said the unbridled trade liberalization policies continued to impact negatively on local manufacturing businesses with many of them facing imminent closure because of the intense competition from imports.
He cited the undeveloped infrastructure, access and cost of credit, energy cost and market size as major barriers to industrialization and the country’s economic growth.
Nana Owusu Afari said government policy should move more towards policies that would help industries to expand and grow and that was the only way to create jobs and wealth from which government could get more taxes.
Ms Hannah Tetteh, the Minister of Trade and Industry, said to accelerate the development of local industries government would ensure that a Domestic Industrial Competitiveness Bill was passed this year.
The bill seeks to promote increased competitiveness and enhanced industrial production and also to ensure a broad range of fair-priced, better quality products for the domestic and international markets.
The Minister said a Private Sector Development Council and a Board would soon be constituted to give further impetus to the implementation of the Private Sector Development Strategy all in an effort to get the private sector to accelerate the pace of economic growth and development.
Alhaji Abudulai Nantogmah, President of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce Ghana, said the country’s industrial sector must be positioned well to enable it to deal with future challenges to be better placed to tap into economic opportunities.
He said the Chamber was willing to support government and stakeholders in a collective effort to create wealth and reduce poverty.