Govt will strategise with AGI on Job creation in the wake of the Continental Free Trade - Yaw Osafo-Maafo

Date: 2021-08-18

The Senior Advisor to the President of Ghana, Hon. Yaw Osafo-Maafo, has indicated that the government desires to work closely with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) in strategising on how jobs could be created within the space of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Hon. Osafo-Maafo who was the guest speaker at the AGI Ghana Industrial Summit and Exhibition (GISE) 2021, pointed out that the major challenge facing the country was youth unemployment.

 "In fact,  it is considered as a national security issue. That is why the government sees AGI as an ally in finding a solution to youth unemployment. I am convinced that industry holds one of the keys to job creation. The important role manufacturing and value addition play in job creation cannot be overemphasized. And this falls under AGI".

He said the government had a target of 1 million jobs to create, as presented in the 2021 Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review of the Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government presented by the Finance Minister recently. 

He said the target could be achieved largely through private sector-led initiatives. " As a Senior Advisor to the President, I wish to reiterate His Excellency the President's view that industrialization is the bedrock of our development, and we commit to working with AGI in this endeavour." 

He said further that the government's efforts to build a robust economy were anchored on its stable macro-economic fundamentals as well as trade facilitation measures. 

"We have rolled out in recent years measures,  including the implementation of GRA Integrated Customs Management Systems (ICUMS),' he said.

"Government recognizes the challenges of medium to long-term capital. We will work closely with AGI on issues such as access to credit, cost of credit, and availability of raw materials. 

"I am aware that AGI has been pushing for this to be addressed for some time now, but I trust that the establishment of the development bank will soon bring a sigh of relief for the credit aspect of the concerns of industry. 

"The Bank is to provide long-term financing for industry and as a result, the AGI cannot be left out in the discussions regarding the concept, structure, Governance or the management of the Development Bank."

He continued that the government, as part of mitigating the effect of COVID-19 on businesses and the economy in general, in 2020 collaborated with Ghana Enterprise Agency (formerly NBSSI), business and trade associations and selected commercial banks to disburse about 600 million cedis to support small businesses,  especially the vulnerable ones.

 He said the stimulus package was a typical example of an intervention for some of the small enterprises and a significant number were waiting to access more funds.

He said it was important to say that "government, under the 1D1F programme, has also provided incentives such as tax incentive, waiver off duties and levies on imported plant, machinery and equipment;  and interest subsidy on loans among others.

Hon Osafo-Maafo said one of the reasons for the CARES (Obaatanpa) programme, which would provide an overarching framework of several interventions, was to help boost industrialization. 

Ghana CARE  programme is expected to boost industrial development through heavy injection of resources from both the government and the private sector.

Therefore, the President's Advisor assured the AGI that it would be actively consulted and involved in the entire implementation process.

The summit was chaired by the President of the AGI, Dr Yaw Adu Gyamfi, who stressed that "The Association of Ghana Industries is set to re-define its business models given the disruptions we suffered last year and the emerging dynamics of international trade." 

He said since the AGI has been aligned with the CARES Obaatanpa programme, the association was determined to build resilience, anchored on Government’s stimulus measures, to reignite growth for Industry. 

"We are anxious to see the full roll-out of the Government’s support and the establishment of the new Development Bank Ghana."

Dr Adu-Gyamfi said several industries were already under-capitalised and the impact of COVID-19 further precipitated the need for finance to resuscitate some of the worst-hit sectors. 

He continued that,  "Efforts to renegotiate or restructure loans last year were met with difficulty, just as getting access to financing. Financing becomes more crucial as trading in AfCFTA has already begun. 
"Therefore, the AGI commends the Government for this initiative of a bank that will come to address the medium to long-term financing needs of businesses".

The AGI President said it was important for the  Government to prioritise its policy interventions and stimulus support for Industry within the overarching framework of Ghana’s Industrial Transformation Agenda.

He said the AGI would continue to forge strategic partnerships with key institutions, especially those who supported this year's  Industrial Summit.

Dr Adu-Gyamfi said the AGI remained grateful for such benevolence and congratulated the VRA especially on their loyal partnership and its 60th anniversary.