Presidential candidates yesterday expounded their economic ideas intended to support the growth of private businesses at the 56th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Ghana Employers Association (GEA).
They were invited to explain to the participants, mainly private and public employers, how they had tailored policies to address challenges confronting the fiscal regime and employment in the country.
In attendance were Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the candidate for the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom of the Progressive People’s Party, Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, who represented the National Democratic Congress’s (NDC) candidate, President John Dramani Mahama and Ms. Susan Adu-Amankwah, the Second Vice Chairperson of the Convention Peoples’ Party who represented Ivor Greenstreet.
Nana Akufo-Addo, who first took to the podium, promised to waive taxes on import duties, financial services, and domestic airline tickets while cutting down the cost of doing business in the country.
He assured the forum that he would ensure adequate power generation and supply to industries at an affordable cost when voted into power.
According to the NPP candidate, a stronger partnership would be formed between his administration and private businesses which would engineer the creation of thousands of jobs for the teeming youths of the country.
He attributed the collapse of businesses and poor performance of some financial institutions to what he described as the increase borrowing of government over the past seven years.
“Inflation is sky-rocketing, private businesses are over-burdened with taxes. There is a 17.5 per cent taxes on financial services, 5 per cent tax on domestic airlines, 17 per cent on import duties which are crippling the private business and making the country not conducive for doing business,” he said.
Mr. Iddrisu, who is the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, downplayed the promise by Nana Akufo-Addo to waive most of the taxes introduced by the government, explaining that it would not be economically prudent.
He said the National Petroleum Levy introduced by government to mobilise adequate funding to clear the country’s debt was a step in a right direction because the country needed to tackle the debt which had accrued over the years.
“The Energy Sector levy has been designed to rake in about GHc 300 million to GHc600 million to enable government leverage on the 1.2 billion debt that accrued in more than a decade,” he stressed.
He explained that other taxes were carefully thought through by government in consultation with stakeholders and were given parliamentary approval before being implemented for the mutual benefit of both the private sector and government.
According to Mr Iddrisu, Mahama-led administration has in the past seven years provided the needed economic environment for businesses to thrive while attracting huge foreign investment into the country to stabilise the currency and create jobs.
Mr. Iddrissu assured of government’s commitment to strengthen partnership with the private sector to promote local businesses and create more employment.
The Second Vice Chairperson of CPP, Ms. Adu-Amankwah promised to rake in about $300 billion to support the economy through a large plantation of Almond tree.
She said a comprehensive plan to use about 7.3 million hectares of land for the plantation of the trees had been designed to employ about 2 million youths.
According to Ms Adu- Amankwah the CPP would implement right economic policies to increase growth thereby stabilising the economy.
Dr. Nduom promised to reduce the number of ministers including deputy ministers to 40 to save money.
He also promised to ensure the independence of the legislature and a constitutional review that would initiate process for the election of metropolitan, municipal and district chief executives (MMDCEs).
The President of GEA, Terence Darko, commended the presidential candidates for their active participation in the AGM and for explaining their position on private sector development.
According to the GEA president, the 2015 fiscal year was bright with the association earning a total of GHc1.7 million as against GHc 1.2 million in 2014.
By Charles Amankwa and Benedicta Ampadu Okyere