PEF to set up pension fund to support SMEs

•   SMEs are the engine of growth.

• SMEs are the engine of growth.

The Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) is to establish a pension fund to provide long term funding for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the country.

Nana Osei-Bonsu, the Chief Executive Officer of PEF, who disclosed this at the weekend when the new France Ambassador to Ghana, Francois Pujolas, paid a working visit to PEF, said the move was to address the financial challenges facing SMEs in the country.

“The Governing Council of PEF has discussed the issue extensively, and next year we will be talking to the pension fund regulators for approval to start the fund,” he said.

He said modalities and structures were being put in place to start the fund, saying the PEF pension fund would operate under the second and third tier of the new pension scheme.

“With the social security contributors of four million people, the PEF pension fund can accrue about $1.2 billion dollars annually if we are able to enroll four million members and charge each member GH¢25 per month,” he said.

Osei-Bonsu explained that pension fund could be a source of long term funding for SMEs to finance their operations and hence the need for other operators to enter the market to raise more finance to boost the economy.

He said the over $4 billion premiums the Social Security and National Insurance Trust collected annually was not enough for the private sector to tap into the fund to finance their business operations.

The CEO entreated French companies and investors to take advantage of the numerous investment opportunities in Ghana to expand their investment portfolios.

He said Ghana has numerous investment opportunities in the areas of agriculture, finance and transport.

Nana Osei-Bonsu also appealed to French companies to help build the capacity of SMEs in the country so that they could compete with their international peers.

The CEO further encouraged French companies not only to invest in Ghana, but use the country as manufacturing hub and export to France and other markets.

Mr. Pujolas, who used the visit to acquaint himself with the operations of PEF, in his remarks, said France was committed to deepening the bilateral, economic and political relationship with Ghana.

“France is excited about the bilateral and economic relationship with Ghana and our vision is to ensure the cooperation between France and Ghana is strengthened for the mutual benefit of both countries,” he said.

Particularly on trade, Mr. Pujolas said France wants to increase its trade volumes with Ghana, which currently stood a little below 10 per cent, to a higher figure.

In this regard, he said the French government would continue to woo French companies and investors to invest in Ghana, saying the French Business Association, which had been embarking on business and investment visits to Ghana, would visit the country next year.

“In the near future, we want more big French companies to come to Ghana,” he said, adding that “the French government wants more French SMEs to seek partners and supplies from Ghana.”

Mr. Pujolas on the issue of finance said, the embassy was in discussions with the COPARCO, a French financial and investment firm to extend credit support to businesses in Ghana and finance infrastructural projects in the country.

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