The government has been urged to increase private sector engagement in the power distribution network to reduce distribution losses and make electricity more available for business expansion.
This, according to Charles Asante-Bempong, the Director, Research and Projects at the Ghana Employers Association (GEA) would improve the private sector, one of the main partners in economic growth and sustainability.
Mr Asante-Bempong was speaking at the GEA Business Agenda (BA) 2016-2018 meeting in Accra.
The Business Agenda 2016-2018 outlined the strategic issues the association would pursue during the next three years and focuses on key areas critical to the growth and competitiveness of the private sector such as energy, skills development and healthcare specifically the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Asante-Bempong presented results of a survey the GEA conducted on the areas and their effects on businesses and provided recommendations to redress the outcomes with the engagement of policymakers.
On energy, Mr. Asante-Bempong said that the hardest hit by the energy crisis was the manufacturing and hospitality organisations explaining that the demand for electricity was expanding between eight to ten per cent every year.
He said 10.7 per cent of staff from the manufacturing and hospitality sectors have been laid off and others are working at less than full capacity due to unreliability of power from the national grid.
He said that it was in line with this purpose that the GEA had developed the strategy which would address critical areas hampering growth in the economy.
Among the strategies Mr. Asante-Bempong identified include government support for businesses that generate biogas or biomas by way of loans to invest in in-house power generation and government diversifying its energy portfolio by incorporating renewable sources, while bringing all parties in the sector at a forum to find a lasting solution to the crisis.
On employment skills Mr. Asante-Bempong said that GEA had developed an industrial attachment policy with which it intends to partner the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Labour Relations to implement in order to bridge the gap between industry and academia.
He said they collaborated with some selected tertiary institutions to review their curriculum by channelling employers’ views in curriculum development
Touching on the concern of employers in relation to the NHIS, Mr. Asante Bempong said medicine lists under the health scheme was not comprehensive enough to cover most illnesses and undermines the purpose for which the scheme was introduced.
He said the quality of drugs that clients receive from the service providers following repeated complaints by workers had revealed that the drugs were mostly “generic and of low quality”.
As part of recommendations by the GEA to ensure workers derived the intended benefits of the NHIA, Mr. Asante-Bempong proposed that a comprehensive stock-taking of the 2.5 per cent contribution by workers to the scheme to ensure value for money.
The Director of Industrial Relations of GEA, Mr. Joseph Kingsley Amoah said the focus of the strategic plan was to help businesses operate despite the challenges they faced.
Mr. Amoah said the plan would help member bodies put in place interventions which would be improved with the involvement of government and other stakeholders.
He said GEA would embark on advocacy interests which would be in favour of employers’ interest and bring harmony to its members in a series of upcoming programmes.
He said this would create a competitive business environment for quality service and called on the media to collaborate with his organisation to seek the welfare of employers.
By Julius Yao Petetsi & Emelia Enyonam Kuleke