The Minister for Trade and Industry, Hon Kobina Tahir Hammond (MP), has made a passionate appeal to the Ghanaian trading, commercial and industrial fraternity to reduce their prices and help make life a little bearable for the consumer. He says doing so will be part of their corporate social responsibility to their consumers and the country as a whole.
The Minister, who made the appeal during the 47th Annual General Meeting of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Accra, also noted that Government will equally reciprocate the gesture by establishing the appropriate economic framework and conducive ambience for their businesses and the nation to thrive. Hon K.T. Hammond recalled the recurrent theme in public discourse which centres on the excessive profit that some in the business community make. Whilst acknowledging the fact that he was neither unappreciative of the various cost and input factors of production, nor the effect of the dollarisation of the economy with its cascading effect on the prices of products, as well as the plaintive cries about the taxes and levies paid to Government, the Minister wondered whether these are the all reasons why the cost of living in Ghana is so unacceptably high.
The Minister however, had no issues with any efforts to make decent profits, and called on the Chamber and its members not to harbour the erroneous belief that there is a radical ignorance in the people about what some term as “the abnormal or super-normal” profits some of them make. He recounted a recent story about some High Street shops and supermarkets in some jurisdictions which took a collective decision not to pass on to the already overstretched consumers extra cost which they would normally have had to pay. He said the enterprises decided to absorb the costs to help ease the burden of the consumer as their collective corporate social responsibility to the public.
Turning to the theme of the AGM, “Building Business Confidence in the Midst of Economic Challenges”, he noted that much of the economic soundness of yesteryears has been disrupted by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the invasion of Ukraine, which have presented the world with the most significant set of challenges since World War II. He observed that on the back the two crises, coupled with other longer-term trends, the world faces pervasive challenges, which will likely slow growth and create significant difficulties for leaders around the globe for some time to come.
According to the Minister, all is not that gloomy, as the Bank of Ghana reports that economic growth was quite strong in the First Half of 2023, with data released by the Ghana Statistical Service further indicating that real GDP growth was 3.2 percent in the 2nd Quarter of 2023, marginally down from 3.3 percent in the 1st Quarter and 3.5 percent in the same period last year. He called for innovative thinking, and investments in research and development, particularly in industries that have demonstrated growth potential. He also noted that government is encouraging innovation by creating programs that incentivise entrepreneurship and small business development.
The Minister revealed that Government, upon realising that complicated regulatory environments can encourage disinvestment, has tried to demystify the investment regime by simplifying the legislative framework surrounding it. He said Ghana’s Business Regulatory Reform Strategy sought to institutionalise policy reform measures to encourage the private sector to invest in industrial ventures, create more jobs, and promote interventions in support of innovation and entrepreneurship. According to Hon K.T.Hammond, Government is making progress in implementing a comprehensive and integrated programme for industrial transformation with initiatives such as the ‘1 District 1 Factory’ policy – to transform the structure of Ghana’s economy from dependency on the import and export of raw materials to one focused on manufacturing, value addition and export of processed goods. He revealed that at the last count, a Hundred and Sixty-nine (169) factories were operational, with the number expected to increase next year.
Among others, the Minister also noted that over a relatively short span of 3 years of a deliberate policy intervention to create a new automotive sector, Ghana is now recognized as an emerging hub for vehicle assembly, with the country currently hosting 6 vehicle assembly plants producing 11 vehicle brands including Volks Wagen, Toyota, Suzuki, Nissan, KIA and Hyundai.
He assured the gathering that Government would continue to implement transformative initiatives in key strategic sectors which would anchor the country’s vision of industrialisation, and called on them to continue to keep faith in the Government, support Government initiatives with their constructive inputs and know-how and enrich the reform programmes with their experience to help build the most business-friendly economy in Africa.