The newly-installed President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Dr. Yaw Adu-Gyamfi, has come out strongly to pronounce that this is the time to protect local industries.
Dr. Adu Gyamfi emphasised the fact that it is the private sector which creates job opportunities, and if the high unemployment rate in the country is to be reduced it is incumbent on government to protect local industries.
The AGI boss was insistent that government should give support to local industries – particularly with implementation of the 70 percent local participation procurement policy, so that traders are discouraged from relying heavily on imported goods.
He also urged the Bank of Ghana to endeavour to bring down interest rates so that Ghanaian businesses can access cheap credit to boost their operations and create more job opportunities.
In its quarterly business barometer report, the AGI has consistently pointed out how the high cost of credit is stifling businesses and running them aground.
Added to this has been impacts of the debilitating power crisis the nation is emerging from, which increased operating costs, reduced production at factories, and led to the collapse of some businesses.
Government has outlined a number of measures to help businesses deal with these setbacks, including the much-awaited ‘stimulus package’.
The B&FT would like to urge implementing agencies to act with dispatch on these interventions, since time is of the essence.
Access to credit is crucial for growth of the country’s SME sector, and if interest rates are so prohibitive it makes it difficult for local businesses to compete globally – especially when their competitors are able to access funds far more cheaply.
The newly-installed AGI President also emphasised the importance of regional integration, particularly harmonisation of all industrial policies in the sub-region since no single government in the region can resolve the unemployment challenges engulfing them.
The slow pace of cooperation, he notes, is hurting the various economies; and they will persistently lose jobs to the Asian tigers unless they pull together.
Industrialisation is crucial to expanding trade opportunities and creating much-needed jobs. Thus, associations like the AGI play a crucial role in the economy and their views need to be accorded the needed attention.
Thankfully, there is an administration in place that, on paper at least, places emphasis on expanding industries, creating jobs in the process, and believes the private sector must drive growth. What’s needed now is action. The rate of joblessness in the system is a ticking time-bomb, which is why government must attach a sense of urgency to rolling out its policy interventions.