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May 7, 2015

Stakeholders debate on current economic challenges


Accra, May 6, GNA - The Ministry of Trade and Industry in collaboration with the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is hosting a conference on; “The High Cost of credit Implications for Ghana and the Way Forward”.

The forum, which attracted key stakeholders from industry, the banking sector as well as policy makers, would provide a platform for participants to deliberate on the causes and effects of the high cost of lending and come up with recommendations and effective solutions to address the problem.

Mr Ekow Spio-Garbrah, Minister of Trade and Industry, at the opening on Tuesday, said the forum was critical to accelerating Ghana’s economic growth and the delivering of improved living standards of the people through export-led industrialisation.

He said although what most people wished to see in their lifetime were single-digit inflation, single-digit interest rates, a much lower level budget deficits and a positive balance of trade and payments, there had been set-backs to achieving these aspirations.

Mr Spio-Garbrah said the forum would look at the causes of the issue at stake with government, the regulator which is the Central bank, and stakeholders such as the banks, industry and financial service consumers, the media as well as civil society organisations to share views and make recommendations to resolve the problem.

Mr Spio-Garbrah said he was happy to listen to the various concerns that were raised by panelists, stakeholders and IEA research experts, which blamed the high cost of credit partly on government borrowing and the need to put the economy into shape by curtailing such borrowings.

The Minister said government would ensure that it worked with the recommendations proposed at the end of the forum to place the country’s economy on a more solid footing where industry would drive growth.

He said the focus of government was to shift from the over-reliance on key traditional export and massive importation of foreign products to a more export-trade agenda, to ensure that Ghana’s non-traditional export products were made to compete favourably with other products on international markets.

Mr Spio-Garbrah appealed to Ghanaians to patronise locally made products in order to help grow local industries and create jobs.

He cited the massive reduction of about 40 per cent in rice importation in 2014, saying this saved government foreign exchange which would have been used for such importations.

He, however, said no decisions had been made on placing any special tariffs on rice importation as being speculated, but rather the onus lied on local consumers whether they wanted to support their own economy or patronise that of other countries. – GNA