‘Govt needs private sector support to build economy’

Mr Seth Tekper,Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

Mr Seth Tekper,Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.

The Minister of Finance, Seth Terkper, has called on the private sector to support government’s efforts to diversify and build a strong and thriving economy.

“All of us have to help to bring the economy back on track of stability and growth again,” he said at the 5th Ghana Economic Forum (GEF) in Accra yesterday, organised by the Business and Financial Times, an Accra-based business and financial newspaper,  on the  theme: ‘A Ghanaian owned economy’.

Mr. Terkper, who delivered the keynote address, to open the two-day forum, said the private sector should not sit on the fence, but provide expertise and ideas to  government on how to diversify and  build a strong economy, pointing out that investors would shy away from the country,  as has happened in other jurisdictions, if the Ghanaian economy was not robust and vibrant.

Mr. Terkper said government was putting in place right structures to diversify the economy and ensure private sector growth as well as improve the export sector of the country, saying this is “time to focus on the exports sector of the economy.”

He noted that the economic challenges the country was going through was due in part to falling commodity prices on the international market and emphasised the need to  diversify the Ghanaian  economy to absorb it from the shocks of the global economy.

Among the measures, the Minister mentioned, were the establishment of the Ghana Exim Import and Export Bank (GEIAEB),  the establishment of the Ghana Infrastructure Fund (GIF),  and the Stabilisation Fund.

He said GEIAEB was to support the private sector to improve the country’s exports, and entreated the private sector to take advantage of the board for the GEIAEB to raise revenue to increase their production and exports.

On the GIF, Mr. Terkper said the objective of the fund was to raise revenue from the country’s oil revenues and other sources to finance infrastructure project, saying the Fund would relieve government the burden to  annually allocate to  the budget  revenue to finance infrastructure project.

Mr. Terkper said through the Stabilisation  Fund, which  was to make up for the shortfall in oil and gas  revenues,  in periods of the drop of price of oil and gas on the world market, government had established a Sinking Fund  to raise revenue to retire the country’s debt as they fell due.

He said the fiscal consolidation and the IMF Extended Credit Facility programmes being pursued by government  was beginning to  yield  positive results and said  government had been able to control the country’s ballooning debt, and  the country’s debt stock ratio  currently stood at  63 three per cent below the recommended threshold  of 70 per cent.

Mr. Terkper said government was committed to addressing the energy challenges facing the country and had invested massively in the sector, disclosing that government was in the process of signing an agreement to  restructure the  Volta River Authority’s legacy debt to put the company in a better financial position.

The Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr. Abdul-Nashiru Issahaku stressed that  structural reforms needed to be introduced to address the economic challenges facing the country.

He said the energy crisis, rising debt levels and inflation were impacting on the economy and businesses in the country.

The Chief Executive of the Business and Financial Times, Mrs. Edith Dankwa in her address said the GEF had grown to become a salient platform not only for dispassionate discussion of key economic issues but also a platform that “seeks to affect policy direction.”

Dr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi, former President of the Association of Ghana Industries, chaired the opening ceremony of the forum, which would discuss topics such as “Powering Ghana’s Future,” “Enabling the Investment Environment,” Leveraging Digital Economy for Enhanced Financial Integration”.

By Kingsley Asare & Alimatu Quaye

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