Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta has disclosed that the majority of 79 factories being constructed under government’s flagship ‘One District, One Factory’ (1D1F) programme are expected to be operational by close of the year.
“By end of the year, a total of 79 factories in 9 regions of the country will be at various stages of construction or operation under the 1D1F scheme. Many of the supported factories are processing our agricultural produce into ready-to-consume forms which previously have largely been imported,” the Finance Minister said during the 2019 Budget Presentation in Parliament.
The focus on agriculture is imperative. considering that over US$2billion worth of food is imported into the country annually. The country imports over a billion dollars of rice, US$320million of sugar, and US$374million of poultry.
“Most of those we could produce here, creating jobs and saving foreign exchange. It is therefore a key goal of government to replace a significant fraction of these imports with domestic production in the medium-term,” he said.
Also commenting on supporting ailing companies, Mr. Ofori-Atta said government has so far disbursed GH¢227million as a stimulus package to support various distressed companies, adding that additional funds will be disbursed next year to support others.
The budget also contained government’s strategy to resuscitate the dying textile industry that has been overtaken by cheap imports. Some of the measures include introducing a zero-rate VAT for the industry over a period of three years.
“Ghana used to have a textile industry that employed around 30,000 people, but in recent years the industry has fallen on hard times and now the number employed is only around 5,000. It is government’s aim to help revive this industry, which could be a big source of employment.
“In order to curtail smuggling and counterfeiting in the textile industry, it is proposed that the tax stamp policy be extended to the textile industry.
“The local textile industry is further faced with high cost of production, which has resulted in high prices at the retail level. In order to support the local industry and make it price-competitive, government proposes to zero-rate VAT on the supply of locally-made textiles for a period of three years,” the Finance Minister said.
Government, he added, will provide further support for industrialisation through the ‘One Region, One Park Programme’.
Under this programme, Mr. Ofori-Atta said, government will be partnering with the private sector through Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) to develop a number of industrial parks: including the Greater Kumasi Industrial City and a Special Economic Zone that will cover 5,000 acres, and incorporate the inland port at Boankra.
He reiterated that government will leverage on the country’s bauxite to develop the aluminum and petro-chemical industries.
“On adding value to our natural resources, our main focus will be on leveraging our huge bauxite resources to develop a comprehensive aluminum industry, and also starting development of a Petro-Chemicals industry to add value to our oil and gas output,” he said.