The Flag bearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, yesterday promised the setting up of a consultative council that would constantly engage with business and industry towards ensuring a mutually satisfactory playing field for accelerated private sector development.
Nana Addo made the disclosure when he interacted with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) as part of moves to explain his policy on trade and industry to the association.
Creating jobs through industrialisation
He said from time immemorial, the country had depended on agriculture as the backbone of the economy but added that it had become obvious that an economy that was based on raw materials was not one that was capable of creating the jobs that the people needed.
He said there was the need to take concerted steps towards value addition to the raw produce and in the process create more jobs while expanding the frontiers of local production.
That, he said, was what the NPP was committed to doing for which reason it required an effective partnership with the AGI and all industry players.
He said the AGI and industry, for that matter, ought to play the lead role in spearheading the agenda of industrialisation.
Strong belief in free market economy
The greatest challenge facing the country, he said, was unemployment and gave an assurance that the only way that his government, when elected, was going to tackle that was industrialisation with the private sector playing a leading role.
“The connection between a society that is functioning well and an economy that thrives is a direct and obvious one”, he said, adding that the NPP had a strong belief in a free-market economy.
For him, he said, strengthening the economy was the shortcut to development and that it was the harnessing of the energies of the market economy that spurred growth and brought about development.
He said that required a leadership that had a plan and a will, adding that the NPP had the men and women to execute that agenda.
Need to shift focus
Nana Addo, therefore, stressed the need to shift focus from high taxes to the strengthening of industry to produce more.
“We need to shift focus from the policy of tax obsession to production and value addition,” he stressed.
His agenda for job creation, he said, would be underpinned by, among others, pursuing aggressive industrialisation and value-addition to agricultural produce, providing tax and related incentives for manufacturing businesses in sectors such as agro-processing, light industries, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, garments and textiles, providing a reliable and cost effective mix of energy supply for businesses, providing the necessary incentives for private sector participation in health-service delivery and pursuing policies that would reduce interest rates.
In doing that, he said his government would establish an Industrial Development Fund (IDF) to finance critical private sector industrial initiatives.
The Fund, he said, would be seeded and fed by funding from Government, multilateral and private institutional investors.
A government under his leadership, he said, would realign the focus of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to attract financing and investments into selected strategic industries and also eliminate the current system of political patronage and restructure existing state-sponsored micro-finance schemes such as MASLOC to provide credit for SMEs, while strengthening oversight responsibilities over privately-financed micro-finance institutions.
The President of the AGI, Mr James Asare-Adjei, said it had become a tradition for the AGI to interact with political parties for its members to have a better understanding of the policies and programmes that the parties had for industry should they assume power.