CalBank and Focus 1 Media build capacity of SMEs in Takoradi

SME Clinic
SME Clinic

CalBank and Focus 1 Media have held a business forum dubbed “CalBank/Focus 1 Media SME Clinic” for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in Takoradi to enlighten them on specific knowledge in digital finance, taxation, bookkeeping and benefits of insurance to SMEs in Ghana.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Focus 1 Media, Mr Kwame Adu-Mante in an opening remark said the event was to create a common platform for business owners, entrepreneurs and financial experts to have discussions on how businesses in the region could thrive without any obstacles.

He said it was also to bring dynamics in today’s business environment which calls for continuous learning to create solutions to relevant modern business issues and called on the participants to take the presentations serious so as to acquire knowledge to employ modern technologies to sustain their businesses in the competitive market.

According to him, SMEs contributed about 70% of Ghana’s GDP however, they were faced with various challenges such as access to funds and issues about taxation among others.

Mr Adu-Mante, therefore, thanked the Western Regional Minister, Mr Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah and the partners, in particular, CalBank and Prudential Life Insurance and the SMEs who attended the event in their numbers to make it a success.

Mrs Martha Acquaye, Head of Digital and Inclusive banking at CalBank who spoke on digital financing said it comprises a broad range of financial services accessed and delivered through digital channels, including payments, credit, savings, remittances and insurance as well as mobile financial services.

She said digital finance is the term used to describe the impact of new technologies on the financial services industry which includes a variety of products, applications, processes and business models that have transformed the traditional way of providing banking and financial services.

She indicated that while technological innovation in finance was not new, investment in new technologies has substantially increased in recent years and the pace of innovation is exponential.

“We now interact with our bank using mobile technology. We make payments, transfer money and make investments using a variety of new tools that were not there a few years ago”, she stressed.

According to her, artificial intelligence, social networks, machine learning, mobile applications, distributed ledger technology, cloud computing and big data analytics have given rise to new services and business models by established financial institutions and new market entrants.

Mrs Acquaye maintained that all these technologies can benefit both consumers and companies by enabling greater access to financial services, offering wider choice and increasing efficiency of operations.

Mr George Amankwa-Boateng, Director in charge of Western/Central Area of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), on taxation said the payment of taxes was grounded in law citing Chapter 6, Article 41 of the 1992 Constitution which enjoins citizens to declare their income honestly to the appropriate and lawful agencies and to satisfy all tax obligations.

He mentioned the categories of taxes as direct taxes which includes Company Income Tax (CIT), Personal Income Tax (PIT), Paye As You Earn (PAYE), Withholding Tax (WHT), Capital Gains Tax, Rent Tax and Stamp Duty.

He mentioned indirect taxes such as Value Added Tax (VAT), National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL), GetFund Levy, COVID-19 Health Recovery Levy and Communications Service Tax (CST), as well as Customs and Excise Duties.

However, Mr Amankwa-Boateng who is also an Assistant Commissioner of GRA bemoaned the low level of enthusiasm on the part of SMEs in receiving educational messages provided by the GRA.

He therefore gave the assurance that GRA would be intensifying its educational campaigns to increase the knowledge of SMEs and the general public on tax regulations and the benefits of paying taxes so as to appreciate it.

Mr Philip Owiredu, Managing Director of Calbank pointed out that having insurance cover for businesses remained key in every business due to the risk and uncertainty associated with day-to-day business activities.

He deemed the event as a timely intervention and called on participants to apply the knowledge gained in their operations to enhance their businesses, especially on how to deal with banks in terms of the appropriate documentation necessary to secure loans to ensure that their needs were met.

Madam Dorothy Tsidi, Ag. Chief Commercial Officer, Prudential Life Insurance Ghana commented on various flexible insurance packages that could cushion the SMEs in times of need and urged them to take advantage of their presence.

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