President Mills Attends BCIU Forum In New York
President John Evans Atta Mills has again assured the international business community that Ghana today has many opportunities that make her one of the most attractive investment destinations in the world.
“We as a government have ensured that we create the necessary environment to ensure that investors have a good return on their investments”, he affirmed.
The Ghanaian leader was addressing a business luncheon held in his honour in New York, United States of America on Wednesday by the highly influential Business Council of International Understanding (BCIU), a US think-tank that provides on-going forum for Senior Business Executives to interact with Heads of State/governments, Cabinet Ministers and senior government officials. It was attended by more than 28 US leading companies in the US, some Ghanaian businessmen, Ghana’s envoy to the USA and the Permanent Representative to the United Nations.
Now that Ghana’s economy has been described as the fastest growing economy in the world, and at a time oil has been struck, he said “Let me be quick to say that it is our determination to ensure that this God-given resource becomes a blessing and not a curse.
“Indeed one of the things which we promised to do as a government and which we are doing, and you can find evidence in my State of the Nation Address, given in February. We are giving full account of the revenues that we are deriving from our oil resource. Of course, we are also going to be accounting to the people of Ghana about how these revenues are being used.”
President Mills referred to the personal experiences that many American and other businessmen had been involved, concerning the many investment opportunities in present Ghana, saying that “we want to make sure that you have a credible judicial system, you have the kind of labour which will respond to the needs of the business, that you have a system which will respond to the very needs of investors’.
Maintaining that transparency is one of the hallmarks of Ghana’s business investments climate, he pointed out that his government had also made sure that the administrative burden that investors had to carry were lessened.
“So far, I believe that we have been able to attract quiet a number of investors, but I believe that there is the need for more and more to come to Ghana. As far as the human potential is concerned, luckily we have taken education very seriously. So luckily you may find when you come to Ghana that getting the right caliber of people to work with will not be that difficult.
“We have a number of universities, tertiary education is being given a pride of place and therefore you get a bunch of very eager graduates, who want to learn”.
President Mills affirmed Ghana’s believe in democracy explaining that without the rule of law, natural justice, respect for the judicial system, non-selective justice and all, we believe the country cannot move forward.
To the excited investors, he said “we have made this choice and we do not intend to go back. This is because if one looks at the experience of other countries that have chosen to go the opposite way, the results have not been very good for them.
“We ought to ensure that we are an example to many of our colleagues in Africa and we believe that, as we go on upholding democracy and showing the rest of Africa that democracy can be practiced with tremendous results, many African countries will decide to join us”, he added.
Admitting that there is no country that can say that everything is perfect, he noted that it was important to recognize one’s difficulties and be able to tackle the challenges and difficulties.
During the business discussion, Dr. Patrick Lukulay, Vice President, Global Health impact Programs, representative of U.S. Pharmacopeia announced the company’s decision to establish a permanent presence in Ghana, where other African countries can come and receive training in quality control medicine and to get control of the huge problem of counterfeit drugs.
To a question on Ghana government’s commitment to helping Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) by Mr. James Prusky, Chief Operations Officer of Crecera Finance Company, President Mills responded that the SMEs were the backbone of the economy, and welcomed foreign financial support to make them stronger and to increase their capacities.
The representative of Citigroup Inc, Mr. Zubaid Ahmad, Vice Chairman, Institutional Clients Group described Ghana as a place to do business and recounted his experience with the Ghana Cocoa Board.
Mr. Dan Markina Ghanaian businessman and chairman of the Ghana Railway Development Authority strongly urged his US counterparts to do business in Ghana because the environment was good and had been enhanced by the liberalization of the banking sector for investors to easily repatriate their profits, apart from the freedom from executive interference.
He also said the decision by General Electric (GE) to inject over one billion dollars into Ghana’s railway system was a confirmation of the fine business opportunities for investors in Ghana.
Again on banking, he said the Bank of Ghana was pushing for American and European banks to also come set up branches there.
Dr. Anthony K Nyame, Chairman of General Capital Corporation, who had just returned from Ghana with a business delegation confirmed the fine business and investment conditions in Ghana and challenged US investors to venture into the housing, oil and gas sectors of the Ghana economy, where huge investment opportunities existed.
This is the third time President Mills has been invited to the forum, which is a model business-government partnership in the US government’s National Export Strategy, which is extremely active in expanded free trade and forges partnership with multilateral organizations like the Millennium Challenge Corporation.