Mr Ken Ofori Atta, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, said the country’s economic transformation agenda continues to have the private sector at its core and government has in the past 22 months built the fundamental structures to support a buoyant and flourishing private sector.
He said government has provided a stable macroeconomic environment with interest rates averaging 27.49 per cent, improved access to credit with credit to the private sector increasing by 13.0 per cent (GH¢0.7 billion) compared with 7.9 per cent (GH¢2.6 billion) in September 2017, ensured stability in exchange rates and stabilized electricity supply, reducing the per kw/h charge to industries.
Mr Ofori Atta, who said this on Thursday when he presented the 2019 Budget Statement in Parliament, noted that, government is resolved to do more to support the private sector.
‘This is in recognition of the fact that, a thriving private sector means more job opportunities for our youth, more tax for Government and ultimately, a buoyant and prosperous economy. We will continue with our prudent economic management in order to ensure an even more stable environment for private sector growth in 2019,’ he said.
He said Government continues to improve the attractiveness of Ghana as an investment destination. ‘Our efforts to improve the business environment are being recognised. Ghana’s ranking on the World Bank Ease of Doing Business report rose six places from 120 to 114 out of 190 countries, and we maintained our status as the highest ranked West-African nation.’
He said in 2019, the Ministry of Trade would prioritise and fast-track the implementation of the Business Regulatory Reform programme, including the Legislative and Administrative reforms to further improve Ghana’s performance in the Doing Business Index.
‘In addition, an online Electronic Registry will be launched in 2019. It will document all business-related laws, regulations, administrative notices, procedures and fees. This will provide open and transparent access to business regulations in Ghana’.
‘We continue to achieve marked success in our investment promotion drive. As at September, this year, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre had registered 93 per cent of its target of 126 businesses with foreign participation for the year. These businesses represented US$ 2.0 billion of Foreign Direct Investment, and in 2019 the Centre is aiming to register 130 new businesses with foreign participation, attracting FDI of US$2.3 billion’.
Mr Ofori Atta said attracting foreign direct investment into the country is critical for growth and regional competitiveness. To make the country more attractive for FDI, Government intends to make Ghana a member of the Africa Trade Insurance Agency. This will provide opportunities for investors to benefit from investment, trade and political risk insurance when investing in the country.
He said the membership would also lessen the request for sovereign guarantee by some institutional investors from government, as they now have the option to access risk cover through the ATI.
He said: ‘Government has approved this initiative and the membership treaty is before Parliament for ratification. As part of the Compact with Africa, Government has secured a grant of US$18.4m from kfw to pay for our shares’.
‘In addition, GIPC registered 47 wholly-owned Ghanaian businesses this year, with an estimated value of GH¢716 million, and aims to increase this to 52 businesses worth GH¢787 million in 2019.’
‘Our Government is also deepening our regional and global trade links, and believes increased trade is a means to boost industry and economic growth in Ghana and across the continent. To this end, in March, Ghana signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, which seeks to create a single market for goods and services in Africa. Parliament has ratified the agreement.’
Mr Ofori Atta said the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), with support from the Rural Enterprise Programme, assisted 1,078 Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) to access institutional credit whilst 2,259 training programmes were organized for 45,022 MSEs.
‘In 2019, NBSSI will complete the construction of 67 Business Resources Centres (BRCs) in various districts. In addition, an in-house Business Incubator is to be established, and 94 Business Advisory Centres (BACs) upgraded.
‘In 2018, GRATIS Foundation continued to execute its mandate of providing training to the youth in various engineering and processing fields. Out of 471 youth, 43 were trained in metal machining, 224 in welding and fabrication as well as 204 in motor vehicle technology. In addition, 137 students from engineering institutions on attachment were trained while 4 master craftsmen received training.’
‘In addition, GRATIS manufactured 86 agro-processing equipment, including equipment for processing grains and cereals; shea nut, groundnuts; cassava and oil palm. In addition, GRATIS undertook 1,763 repair and maintenance, and spare parts manufacturing activities,’ he added.
The Minister said In 2019, GRATIS would complete the construction of five new Rural Technology Facilities (RTF), and that would add to the existing stock of 26 RTFs to support rural industrialization, including One District, One Factory (1D1F).
He said under the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Support Programme, 7,000 entrepreneurs were trained and 1,350 successful entrepreneurs who presented innovative and bankable business plans were provided with financial support.
‘It is expected that each of these entrepreneurs will create a minimum of two jobs, totalling at least 2,700 direct jobs. In 2019, another set of 10,000 entrepreneurs will be trained and financial support will be provided to about 2,000 beneficiaries.’