Business News of Thursday, 10 April 2014


Veep calls for national forum on the economy

Vice-president Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur has proposed a national forum on the economy to find the best way to resolve the current economic difficulties. Such a forum should involve all stakeholders and be devoid of partisan considerations to brainstorm on the challenges.

He said at the meeting of the Economic Management Team, President John Mahama had agreed that before the end of June this year, there would be an open discussion on the path the government had chosen.

Mr Amissah-Arthur said the forum would involve stakeholders, such as civil society organisations, the media and the political parties, to exchange ideas on how to put the economy back on track.

He said this when he inaugurated a rice mill installed by the Global Agricultural Development Company (GADCO), with support from the Finatrade Group, at Sogakope in the Volta Region yesterday.

He observed that there was danger in the manner in which matters of the economy were being discussed, especially in the light of partisan interests and other considerations.

He said Ghanaians needed to reach consensus on how to move the economy forward, provided all the stakeholders came together to guarantee the continued growth of the economy.

"This is not an opportunity for the blame game but to scrutinise what the government has tried to do to address the problem and find the way forward," he said.

Mr Amissah-Arthur said the unexpected economic development required new strategies for public sector wage reforms.

He said there was the need to provide incentives for quality people to be retained in the public sector in order to provide good services for the people.

He deplored the manner in which in the past the best people left the public sector for the private sector, a development which had a negative effect on the economy.

Mr Amissah-Arthur stressed the need to address the public sector wage system because it affected the government and also did not augur well for the private sector.

"When the domestic cost through inflation rises faster than the countries we trade with, our import sector becomes less competitive and, therefore, we tend to import many more things that we could have produced ourselves," he explained.

On that score, he observed that it was important to address the issues that affected the private sector in order for that sector to match the wages in the public sector.

"We have a situation where more imports come into this country, putting pressure on the exchange rate and, therefore, causing some depreciation on our exchange rate," he said.

The Vice-President lauded the sponsors of the project for their effort and assured them of the government's support towards providing job opportunities for the people.

He said agriculture remained one of the top priorities of the government, for which it was ready to support farmers to improve their yields.

The rice mill has the capacity to produce three million tonnes of paddy rice and the project has created jobs for more than 200 people in the area.

Mr Amissah-Arthur called on chiefs to make land available for people who sought land to embark on projects in their communities.

The Volta Regional Minister, Ms Helen Ntoso; the Minister of Food and Agriculture, Mr Clement Kofi Humado, and the Deputy Trade and Industry Minister, Nii Lantey Vanderpuije, in separate addresses, reiterated the government's commitment to ensure that the agricultural sector was given the needed attention to accelerate economic growth.

The Executive Director of Finatrade SA Ghana Limited, Mr Nabil Moukarzel, said for nearly 14 years Finatrade had worked tirelessly to promote the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown rice.

He called for government support to ensue that the project became a success.