The National Democratic Congress (NDC) represented by Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, the New Patriotic Party (NPP), by Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, its Presidential Candidate, the Convention People’s Party (CPP), by Mrs Susan Adu Amankwah, and Progressive Peoples’ Party (PPP) by Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, its Presidential Candidate all admitted that industry played a critical role in the growth of the economy and must be given urgent attention.
They made their respective submissions to the topic: “Promoting Sustainable Economic Development in Ghana: Viable Policy Options”, at a platform provided by the Ghana Employers’ Association at its 56th Annual General Meeting in Accra.
Nana Addo said an NPP-led government would pursue key growth strategies to ensure job creation, invest in agriculture, develop skilled labour in agriculture through quality improved education, and implement a migration policy that would ensure equitable labour distribution across the country.
It would also put in place strong policies options and strategies that focuses on the revitalisation of the industrial and agricultural sectors, the abolition of the 17.5 per cent Valued Added Tax (VAT) on imported medicines, as well as the reduction of current high corporate taxes from the current 25 per cent to 20 per cent.
Both the CPP, NPP and PPP argued that there were setbacks to economic and industrial growth such as the bureaucracies in administrating businesses, high custom tariffs, cumbersome procedure and processed for accessing port clearing services, as well as energy sector challenges, but the NDC said a lot has been achieved to minimise and remove inherited debts and fixed the problems.
The three opposition parties again advocated for the urgent review of the current energy tariff policy and to ensure that all the loopholes in the energy sector were addressed to enhance power supply for sustained industrial growth.
Nana Addo NPP believes in building a strong, resilient and self-supporting economy, and would achieve these by correcting the deficiencies in the management of financial systems to strengthen the presently weak and unstable Ghana Cedi, work towards the reduction of inflation and also reduce interest rates, to ensure a conducive environment for industries to thrive.
Nana Addo said an NPP-led government would further establish an Industrial Development Fund, restructure and resource the National Investment Bank to support this Fund, retool the National Investment Promotion Council, and restructure the operations of the Ghana Export Promotion Council to make them more efficient and effective.
He said its government would support research institutions with the requisite resources to enhance their operations and ensure that attention was given to vocational and technical education and training to ensure that the required skills needed to feed the industrial sector are adequately produced.
Mrs Adu Amankwah said the CPP-led government would give much attention to the revitalisation of state enterprises, improve existing policies for education and health sectors and ensure equity and fairness in the sharing of the oil and gas revenue for development across the country.
Mr Iddrisu, however, said the NDC government has worked hard to correct most of the challenges it inherited in various sectors of the economy such as the energy, industry, agricultural, educational and health and was committed to sustaining the gains.
He said the NDC had to take some stiffer measures to save the Volta River Authority and other State owned enterprises which had inherited debts from falling out of business, and has currently made massive investment in the energy sector to ensure economic stability.
He cited the establishment of the Industrial Development fund, with the Exim Bank providing credit funding for private sector players as a significant achievement towards enhancing business operation, but admitted that there are still gaps in technical and vocational education to ensure the requisite skilled manpower for industry.
He said a 120 million dollar funding has been secured by government to address the deficiencies in the system to ensure quality skills to feed industry, adding that a lot of improvements have been made with respect to port clearing and other custom operations to improve competitiveness of the port system.
Dr Nduom said a strong and competitive economy requires national unity and cohesion as well as inclusiveness to ensure national development, and advocated for the revision of the 1992 Constitution to empower the citizenry to elect Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assembly members and Mayors for accountability and sustained economic growth and development at the decentralised levels.
He also called for public sector reforms to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and eliminate corruption in the administration of the various sectors, and said the PPP would also harness technology to address the issue of data by developing a sustainable system of National Identification database of all citizens, which would serve as a major breakthrough for solving major national problems.
Dr Nduom said the PPP would also pursue health policies that would target preventable illnesses that impedes on economic growth resulting from regular employee absenteeism and poor work output.
He said the current setbacks in basic education would prevent the county from getting any skilled labour stressing that education must be continuous rather than just free at the senior high school level.
He said using the state purchasing power, the PPP would put in place a policy to restrict local or government funded institutions from importing products that were locally produced in the country, thereby encouraging patronage of local Ghanaian products.
Meanwhile the GEA has elected Mr Terry Darko as its President, Mr Dan Acheampong as the First Vice, Mrs Freda Duplan, as the Second Vice and Mrs Victoria Hajja as its Treasurer.
Source: GNA/News Ghana