Dr Kofi Konadu Apraku, the former Minister of Trade and Industry and NPP Presidential Aspirant has called on the government to undertake a feasibility study that will culminate in the establishment of Ghana Export and Investment Bank.
Speaking in Accra at a Forum of former Ministers of Trade and Industry, Dr. Apraku stated that a review of Ghana’s current economic situation shows that the nation is afflicted by all the ills of macroeconomic instability: growing fiscal deficits, high interest rates, high unemployment, depreciating currency, and trade and balance of payment problems.
He further stated that low commodity prices and reduction in export volume of traditional export commodities of cocoa and gold in 2013 adversely affected export earnings of the two commodities. The continuing exportation of cocoa, gold and even oil in their unprocessed or crude form tends to expose and make the country vulnerable to erratic or unstable international market price of these commodities.
He stated, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, a review of our external payments and external trade performance shows clearly that we have not performed well over the years. The problems in our export sector are not different from the problems we face in the overall economy. While the solutions to our economic problems relative to our export sector may be specific, the general scope remains the same. But even more important, we know what is wrong with the export sector just as we know what is wrong with the overall economy’ he stated.
Dr. Apraku was emphatic when he said, ‘Mr. Chairman the economic problems we face in our country today cannot be due to our lack of understanding of their causes nor appreciation of their impact. The problems exist because we have not demonstrated the capacity, the political will or the strength of leadership to solve them. ‘
He stated that as Minister of Trade and Industry, he led the Ministry to prepare an elaborate industrial policy document. The document outlined in great details what is required to rebuild Ghana’s underdeveloped and uncompetitive industrial sector into a modern agro- based productive industrial sector. Today, he states sadly, ‘the detailed recommendations are largely unimplemented’.
Similarly, he initiated the preparation of a National trade policy document that outlined a comprehensive approach to expand our export volumes and earnings and diversify our export base. The document was completed by my successor and adopted by the Ministry and the country in 2006 but is yet to be fully implemented.
He argued that while several important issues in the Trade Policy must be implemented, he believes that ‘the issue of financing our exports remains very crucial and important in building a vibrant and sustainable export sector, creating jobs for our people, reducing poverty and restoring macro-economic stability.
Dr. Apraku further stated that a major constraint to the production, processing and export of our goods is access of our producers to credit at realistic interest rates. However, this situation has not been helped by the constantly depreciating cedi. Indeed, the high interest rates, the unstable exchange rate, high taxes, high electricity and other utility tariffs, have all conspired to virtually destroy our industrial sector.
He stated again that Ghana must address the issue of adequate financing for the industry, the agricultural and the export sector at realistic and concessional interest rates in order to save our crumbling industrial sector and declining exports.
Re-emphasizing his earlier point, Dr. Apraku stated ‘it is on the basis of the persistent poor performance of the external sector, the intensity of the macro-economic ills afflicting our country, and the increasing vulnerability of our economy, that I am appealing to the government to initiate a feasibility study aimed at the establishment of the Ghana Export and Investment Bank.
According to the Presidential Aspirant, the Bank’s mission would be to enhance the economic growth of Ghana by providing funds on concessionary interest rates for the development of the country’s export sector. It would also finance investments that are focused on production for export. The Bank would among other services have an Export marketing services Program to assist Ghanaian companies in the identification of prospective business partners, export opportunities and facilitating placements of final orders.
He recommended that the initial seed money for the Bank should include the funds that are currently available to MASLOC, EDIAF, Ghana Export Finance Company and perhaps, funds available at other publicly owned Banks.
In his response to Dr. Apraku’s suggestion, the current Minister of Trade and Industry, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu who also addressed the forum, stated that he had been directed by the President to work towards converting the EDIAF fund into a Ghana Export-Import Bank within the next five years.
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