The government on Thursday launched a new initiative to address difficulties in the private sector, attract more investment into the country, and create jobs for Ghanaians.
The inaugural edition of the “Ghana Mutual Prosperity Dialogues,” which is pioneering the initiative, brought together captains from all sectors of the economy.
The dialogue was marked by frank discussions on challenges affecting the private sector, particularly in the areas of industry and trade, as well as solutions for mutual benefit.
Attendees included, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), and Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG).
Some Ministers, representatives from various financial institutions, business chambers, policy Think-Tanks, and advocacy groups, also attended the event, which was held in Accra.
The dialogue which was convened by the Ministry of Finance in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) was held on the theme: “Investment, growth and jobs.”
Other partners were, Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), and the Tony Blair Institute for Global change.
Harmonisation of tax regimes, making business regulations clear and easy to comprehend, and enhancing talks between government and the private sector, were the key takeaways form the event.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta, Finance Minister, underscored the importance of the initiative, particularly as Ghana seeks to maintain recent economic advances.
“This meeting, which ignites the critical vehicle of dialogue is significant because it brings together, the two critical sectors of our economy – private and public, to drive growth and transform our economy.
“Our hosting of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) headquarters and its wider implication for national progress and growth requires frequent engagements and conversations for the change we all desire,” he said.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said the interactions between the public and private sectors were expected to define the appropriate plans, policies, and timelines to accelerate the turnaround and transformation of the business environment.
In an interview with the Ghana News Agency after the event, Madam Abena Osei-Asare, Deputy Finance Minister, noted that the new journey between government and the private sector was because the sector “holds the catalyst to the growth that we’re all looking for.”
“This is to enable both the public and private sector to listen to each other and remove obstacles that will not enhance the smooth running of businesses, make the industrial sector thrive, and create jobs for our teaming youth,” she said.
Madam Osei-Asare maintained that once a suitable atmosphere was created for the private sector to prosper, it would employ more people and pay more taxes, which would spur long-term economic growth.
Concerning the event’s sustainability, she said that a Secretariat had been established at the Finance Ministry to address bottlenecks that do not promote business growth.
Mr Kyle Kelhofer, Senior Country Manager, IFC, emphasised that it was important for the government and the private sector to regularly dialogue to proffer solutions to Ghana’s economic challenges.
“This is a key period, where the business sector can, and must play a key role in economic growth and job creation.
“It’s the business people assembled here, today, who know better than any of us, what the business constraints are on daily basis, as well as efforts to create jobs,” he said.
Dr. Joseph Obeng, President of GUTA wondered why there should be 240 factories across the country was, when businesses were unable to export to markets in neighbouring Togo.
He decried the multiple taxes that traders and industry had to pay, as well as the Cedi’s high inflation and depreciation, which hindered growth, lowered business turnover, and reduced consumer purchasing power.
Dr. Obeng urged the government to gain insight from the discussions to make taxes reasonable, simple, and easy to pay, saying that “this will ensure compliance.”