Economic pointers must favour private sector – Experts

BusinessesEconomic think-tanks have called on government to show high level of commitment to the development of the private sector as engine of growth.

They said this could be made possible if government adopt prudent legitimate, financial and affirmative actions to spin the country’s economy to a better height.

The speakers made the call at the opening of a two-day interactive session for media practitioners on the 2013 budget.

It was organised by the International Federation of Economic Journalists (IFEJ) and funded by STAR Ghana, a multi-donor pooled organisation.

The think-tanks argued that the days of favouring foreign industries at the expense of local ones for fear of World Trade Organisation regulations are over.

Dr Opoku Afriyie, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, called for drastic reduction in the importation of foreign goods and services to protect local industries.

He observed that the speed at which foreign imports dominate local production poses danger to the economy.

He reiterated the need for government to focus on building the economy around the private sector, especially local industries and reduce importation of some goods and services to enable local entrepreneurs to thrive.

Dr Afriyie asked the government to take firm decision in promoting the private sector to engineer growth and take the lead in driving the economy.

The Chairman of the Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI), Mr Robert Kwakye Nketia challenged authors of the 2013 budget over the facts and figures they presented.

He said the huge figures in the budget were cooked and did not represent the true picture of the present state of the economy.

He contended that the strength of industry which should be the base for economic growth was unreservedly ignored by government.

Mr Nketia cited for instance that government’s contention on subsidising the cost of fuel with huge budget was false because the tax elements charged on petroleum products took care of the so called subsidy.

He said government only gave lip service to agriculture which engages about 70 per cent of the country’s population.

Opening the workshop, the President of IFEJ, Mr Lloyd Evans said the forum was the first of its kind for journalists to re-examine the country’s budget by making the necessary criticisms and to inform and educate members of the public on some of the key areas.

He noted that it is high time journalists set national agenda on the country’s budget instead of waiting for members of the public to do so.

Dr Joseph Kwadwo Asenso, an official of the Ministry of Finance who gave a brief overview of the 2013 budget took participants through the various areas of the budget, explaining the difficulties that were involved.

He touched on the quantum of deficits in the budget and explained that key areas such as the failure to make up tax targets, the migration and payment of most public sector employees on the Single Spine Salary Structure and failure of donor agencies to honour their obligation to augment the budget contributed to some deficits the country experienced in the previous year.

Source: GNA

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