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Business News of Thursday, 14 February 2008

Source: GNA

Kufour gives high marks to private sector

Accra, Feb. 14, GNA - President John Agyekum Kufuor on Thursday gave high marks to the private sector, saying it was "doing very well" after various laws and measures had been put in place to facilitate its growth.
These measures include capacity building programmes, provision of government guarantees as well as different forms of credit like the Venture Capital Fund, Micro-Credit and Small Loan Scheme. "I must acknowledge the substantial investments which are now making their way into the economy, particularly from mining, services, industry, commerce, tourism and hotel development," he said in his final State of the Nation address to Parliament in Accra.
He said the financial sector, which was perhaps the most vibrant, continued to do well, with an influx of many new banks, both local and foreign.
President Kufuor said, he should be launching the Central Bank's E-ZWICH system, which was modernizing the financial system towards greater efficiency and security.
He said, the "vigorous and almost miraculous developments" in real estate, which had become a feature countrywide, were mostly private sector initiatives and commended private real estate developers for "staying resolved in the face of high input costs".
President Kufuor said government had stepped in with a housing scheme in Accra, Kumasi, Koforidua, Tamale and Wa, to help workers. He said there was the need to build greater entrepreneurial spirit to take advantage of the existing opportunities in the system adding that at the moment, a number of world class companies were vying to partner the country to invest in the bauxite industry for both upstream and downstream processing locally, justifying government's acquisition of VALCO.
On agriculture, President Kufuor said it was the obvious sector to lead industrialisation and the government had sought to modernise it through mechanization and irrigation to change the rural economy, create more wealth and help attain the Millennium Development Goals. He said so far, more than 3,000 tractors had been sold to farmers at a highly subsidised rate while small-scale irrigation projects were being promoted, especially in the northern parts of the country. "Despite this, much remains to be done to transform the sector, mainly because of outlook and also financial constraints. However, through various interventions including the supply of improved planting materials, extension services and micro-credits to farmers, significant results have been recorded. Food has been available around the year at affordable prices."
President Kufuor noted that the sector had been attracting large scale commercial farmers like Golden Exotics Limited, which is the local subsidiary of the internationally renowned French company, Compagnie Frutiere and Blue Skies, thereby attracting numerous satellite farms.