Business News of Thursday, 26 April 2012
President John Evans Atta Mills has assured the international business community that Ghana has many opportunities that makes her one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world.
"We as a government have ensured that, we create the necessary environment to ensure that investors have good returns on their investments," he affirmed.
A statement issued in Accra and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday said, President Mills gave the assurance when he addressed a business luncheon held in his honour in New York, USA.
The luncheon was organised by the highly influential Business Council of International Understanding (BCIU), a US think-tank that provides a platform for Senior Business Executives to interact with Heads of State and Governments, Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials.
It was attended by more than 28 leading companies in the US, some Ghanaian businessmen, Ghana's envoy to the US and Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
"Now that Ghana's economy has been described as the fastest growing economy in the world, and at a time oil has been struck, let me be quick to say that it is our determination to ensure that this God-given resource becomes a blessing and not a curse.
Indeed one of the things which we promised to do as a government and which we are doing, and you can find evidence in my State of the Nation Address given in February; is that, we are giving full account of the revenues that we are deriving from our oil resource. Of course, we are also going to be accounting to the people about how these revenues are being used."
President Mills referred to the personal experiences of many American and other businessmen concerning the many investment opportunities in Ghana, saying that "We want to make sure that you have a credible judicial system, you have the kind of labour which will respond to the needs of the business, that you have a system which will respond to the very needs of investors".
President Mills maintained that transparency was one of the hallmarks of Ghana's business investments climate, and pointed out that, his government had also made sure that the administrative burden that investors had to carry was lessened.
"So far, we have been able to attract quite a number of investors, but there is the need for more and more to come to Ghana. As far as the human potential is concerned, we have taken education very seriously. So luckily you may find when you come to Ghana that getting the right calibre of people to work with will not be that difficult.
"We have a number of universities, tertiary education is being given a pride of place and therefore, you get a bunch of very eager graduates who want to learn".
President Mills affirmed Ghana's belief in democracy, explaining that without the rule of law, natural justice, respect for the judicial system, non-selective justice and all, the country could not move forward.
To the excited investors, he said "We have made this choice and we do not intend to go back. This is because if one looks at the experience of other countries that have chosen to go the opposite way, the results have not been very good for them.
"We ought to ensure that we are an example to many of our colleagues in Africa, and we believe that as we go on upholding democracy and showing the rest of Africa that democracy can be practiced with tremendous results, many African countries will decide to join us," he added.
Admitting that there is no country that can say that everything is perfect, he noted that it was important to recognise one's difficulties and be able to tackle those challenges.
Dr Patrick Lukulay, Vice President, Global Health Impact Programmes, a representative of US Pharmacopeia, announced the company's decision to establish a permanent presence in Ghana, where other African countries could come and receive training in quality control medicine as well as control of the huge problem of counterfeit drugs.
To a question on government's commitment to helping small and medium enterprises (SMEs) by Mr James Prusky, Chief Operations Officer of Crecera Finance Company; President Mills responded that, the SMEs were the backbone of the economy, and welcomed foreign financial support to make them stronger and increase their capacities.
The representative of Citigroup Incorporated, Mr Zubaid Ahmad, Vice Chairman, Institutional Clients Group described Ghana as a place to do business and recounted his experience with the Ghana Cocoa Board.
Mr Dan Markin, a Ghanaian businessman and Chairman of Ghana Railway Development Authority, urged his US counterparts to do business in Ghana because the environment was good and had been enhanced by the liberalisation of the banking sector for investors to easily repatriate their profits, apart from the freedom from executive interference.
He said the decision by General Electric (GE) to inject over one billion dollars into Ghana's railway system was a confirmation of the fine business opportunities for investors in Ghana.
Mr Markin said, the Bank of Ghana was pushing for American and European banks to come and set up branches in the country.
Dr Anthony K. Nyame, Chairman of General Capital Corporation, who had just returned from Ghana with a business delegation confirmed the fine business and investment conditions in Ghana, and challenged US investors to venture into the housing , oil and gas sectors of the economy, where huge investment opportunities existed.
This is the third time President Mills has been invited to the forum, which is a model business-government partnership in the US Government's National Export Strategy, extremely active in expanded free trade. It also forges partnership with multilateral organisations like the Millennium Challenge Corporation.**