The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has outlined comprehensive policy measures aimed at strengthening the prospects of accelerated enterprise development in a competitive environment and stimulating the rapid growth and expansion of the Ghanaian economy, so that the all-important issue of job creation can be successfully addressed.
According to World Bank statistics, about 48% of Ghanaians between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed, whilst over 18% of those aged between 25 and 64 years are inactive or unemployed and actively looking for job.
This unprecedented high level of unemployment, in the view of the NPP flagbearer, is “the greatest challenge confronting our nation, particularly amongst the youth”, and addressing this matter, he added, is the only way by which we “can then guarantee the peace and stability of our nation.”
Nana Akufo-Addo made this known on Thursday, September 8, 2016, when he addressed the 57th Annual General Meeting of the Ghana Employers’ Association, at the Accra International Conference Centre, on enterprise growth and job creation.
The NPP, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, believes that the only sustainable way of addressing this challenge of high unemployment is by expanding the productive base of the Ghanaian economy and enhancing enterprise growth.
To this end, he told the GEA that his government will focus on four key priority areas, which are “building a strong, resilient economy by restoring macroeconomic stability and ensuring fiscal discipline; revitalising the Industrial sector; revitalising the agricultural sector; and implementing an aggressive, targeted infrastructural development programme.”
Reduction/Abolishing of taxes
With the NPP’s economic policy, under an Akufo-Addo government, moving away from taxation to production, he stated that his government will remove import duties on raw materials and machinery for production within the context of the ECOWAS Common External Tariff (CET) Protocol.
Additionally, he noted that “eliminating the Special Import Levy; abolishing the 17.5% VAT on imported medicines not produced in Ghana; abolishing the 17.5% VAT on Financial Services; abolishing the 17.5% VAT on Real Estate sales; abolishing the 17.5% VAT on domestic airline tickets; and reducing VAT for micro and small enterprises from the current 17.5% to the 3% Flat Rate VAT introduced by the NPP” will be done to boost business activity in the country.
Corporate income tax which has stood at 25% for the last 8 years, he said, will be reduced further to 20%. The process of reducing this tax, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, was initiated by the Kufuor administration when it reduced corporate income tax rate from 35% to 25% by the time it left office in January 2009.
With high charges at the port constituting a major headache for businesses, Nana Akufo-Addo assured employers across the country that his government will reduce port clearing charges, as well as “establish an independent Port Clearing Facilitation Agency (excluding Customs) as a One-Stop institutional mechanism to support import and export trade.”
To spur on the country’s industrialization, Nana-Akufo-Addo indicated that an omnibus fund, Industrial Development Fund, to finance critical industrial support interventions will be established. The National Investment Bank (NIB), he added, will be recapitalized and refocused to support industrial development (including retooling and acquisition of new technologies by local industries).
The Ghana Investment Promotion Center, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, will be reoriented to focus its attention on attracting investments into selected strategic industries, including large scale anchor industries to serve as growth poles for the Ghanaian economy (Petrochemical, Iron and Steel, Cement, Integrated Aluminum and Bauxite, Industrial Salt, Vehicle Assembly, Manufacturing of Machinery, Equipment and Machine Parts).
Restructuring the operations of the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, the NPP flagbearer said, will enhance export diversification, so Ghanaian products can “take advantage of market opportunities under ECOWAS, Continental African Trade, EPA, AGOA and South- South trade.”
With high energy tariffs being the bane of most businesses across the country, the NPP flagbearer assured of a review of the “energy tariff policy to reduce the burden on businesses”, as well as the creation of “dedicated energy supply sources for industrial enclaves and zones to provide them with quality and reliable power.”
As part of plans to industrialise and transform the Ghanaian economy, Nana Akufo-Addo reiterated his commitment to the packed auditorium, at the Conference Centre, of helping to establish a factory in each of the 216 districts across the country.
This, he said, will be done through the reactivation of the District Industrialization Programme, “under which every district will be supported by Government, through public/private partnerships, to establish at least one major industrial project, based on the natural endowment or economic potential of each district.”
To feed these industries, an Akufo-Addo government, he added, “will provide a comprehensive programme of support for the production of selected agricultural products as raw materials for agro-processing (Tomato, Cassava, Cocoa, Maize, Oil Palm, Cashew, Cotton, Selected Fruits, Groundnuts, and Rice etc.)”.
The provision of “specific incentives for the production and supply of quality locally produced non-agricultural raw materials for industry at competitive prices,” the NPP flagbearer stated, will be ensured.
He assured that corruption in the award of public contracts would be eliminated through the strict implementation of the teachings implementing strictly the teachings of the Public Procurement Act (Act 663) to ensure that competitive bidding, not sole sourcing, is the norm in the determination of public transactions.
Ghana Employers’ Association
To the leadership of the GEA, Nana Akufo-Addo announced the establishment of a “bi-annual Consultative Forum as a structured dialogue mechanism for government and private sector to deliberate on critical issues affecting the private sector.”
Nominating representatives from Business Associations to become members of the governing boards of relevant public institutions and agencies, he added, will be done “to ensure inputs from the private sector in policy formulation.”
In concluding, Nana Akufo-Addo urged the GEA to be interested in the development of an educated and highly skilled workforce in Ghana, explaining that “employers are the frontline beneficiaries of an educated and skilled workforce.” NPP plans to build a number of model Vocational and Technical institutions around the country to demonstrate its importance. We are counting on the private sector to join in this critical project.
Nana Akufo-Addo was accompanied by the Trade and Industry Minister in the Kufuor government, Alan Kyerematen, now Campaign Sector Committee Chairperson on Trade and Industry; and the former Deputy Minister in the Kufuor government, Mrs Gifty Ohene Konadu, his Special Assistant on the District Industrialisation Programme.