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Opinions of Monday, 27 June 2016

Columnist: Ayorogo, Bismark Adongo

Introduce levies on non-petroleum imports for sustainable investment

Ghana has enough fertile land and water resources that can be used to enhance agriculture to sufficiently meet domestic food and nutrition needs and for exports for foreign exchange. Aggressively embarking on Agricultural Led Transformation of the Economy is the greatest policy decisions to take as a government and as a country.

The expansion of irrigation and road infrastructure, facilitation of farmers access to high yielding seeds and improved breed of livestock, provision of subsidy on agricultural inputs and using tax rebates to influence the setting up of Import Substitution and Agro-processing Industries in the agricultural led transformational agenda of the economy will, within the shortest time, create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth, improve livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable groups and, of course, grow the economy into an Upper Middle Income Status.

According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SADA, Mr. Charles Abugre, the rice industry in Ghana has a market size of US$ 1 billion with only an estimated 35-40% of this demand being met locally. This certainly presents Ghanaians a bigger opportunity to increase rice production through increased investment in the agricultural sector.

Research points out that between 1994 and 2013, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the three northern regions was less than 1%. It is also common knowledge that the cost of transporting food items from Brazil to Ghana is far less than the cost of transportation of same items from the northern part of the country to Accra. Government surely needs to take a second look at resource allocation and investments in areas such as the northern savannah with huge potentials for agricultural growth and development.

One of the reliable and best ways of sourcing funds to effectively finance agriculture is internal resource mobilization. Coincidentally, the people of Ghana through their representatives in parliament have passed a law, SADA Act 805 of 2010 to introduce levies on all non-petroleum imports and use the proceeds to finance SADA programs to which agricultural transformation is key. This good law is yet to be implemented.

The prioritization of agriculture in the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) of Ghana’s Oil Revenue is also another good source of domestic resource. The ABFA only needs to be increased and allocated equitably to the regions for increased agricultural activities.

To conclude, there is the urgent need for government to introduce levies on all non-petroleum imports as advocated by Act 805 of 2010 and use the proceeds to invest and finance agriculture for the growth of the sector and the total transformation of the economy.


Writer's e-mail: ayorogobismark@yahoo.com