Local furniture manufacturers are yet to receive purchase orders from Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) several weeks after a directive by Local Government Minister, Julius Debrah, but even befire the orders come in, the furniture makers are apprehensive of the repercussions.
According to them, their experiences with other government institutions regarding payment for furniture purchased makes them less excited about the initiative.
Local Government and Rural Development Minister, Julius Debrah, initiated a campaign for all Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to use locally produced furniture at their offices.
Announcing the initiative early this month, the Minister said the move would help to steady the wobbly Cedi, which has seen a historical fall in value against the Dollar and other major trading currencies since January this year, although a marginal stability started in the middle of September.
The Minister’s directive was in response to increasing patronage of imported furniture, a situation that is heralding a collapse of local furniture industry while contributing to a weak Cedi.
Industry watchers say Ghanaians are increasingly opting for imported beds, living-room furniture, dining table, kitchen sets and furniture in their offices due to their aesthetic appeal.
Kpogas Furniture, a leading local furniture has noted that once MMDAs begin ordering furniture from them, a bigger problem could ensue – delays in payment for goods delivered.
Administrative Manager of Kpogas, Christian Agyare, remarked “sometimes you work for government, but two to three years government has not paid. As I speak to you now there are a lot of work that we have done for some ministries but we still have not received payment many years later”, he said.
He explained that orders from these government agencies were pre-financed with loans from banks, making it difficult to make profit when there are delays in payments.
The Kpogas Furniture Administrative Manager said local manufacturers need support to grow since they have the capacity to produce any type of furniture in Ghana.
He explained that apart from some finishings that they may have to import from countries like China and Italy, they have the tools to produce furniture of any specification.
“We don’t import raw materials. We buy them here, apart from leather”, he added, making a strong case for government and other corporate bodies to rely on them in the interest of the country’s economy.
Admitting that furniture produced by local manufacturers can sometimes be a bit expensive compared to those imported from China, Italy or Turkey, he however noted that quality and durability must be the underlining factor with any purchase.
“Our prices may not be low but it is value for money. What will be the sense in buying an inexpensive furniture that looks nice – because of their finishing— but after a few years it starts breaking down?” he demanded.
Mr Agyare said Kpogas has a long list of private businesses as clients who are happy with their services, an indication that they have the capacity to produce.
They urged MMDAs to make prompt payment for services like private businesses do.
“Beyond the directive, there should also be a mechanism that ensures that prompt payment is made by government”, Christian Agyare advised.
He said Kpogas is yet to receive any order from the MMDAs several weeks after the Minister’s directive.
Christian Agyare is convinced patronage of locally produced furniture will generate employment for the youth in particular.
He revealed that the weak local currency, inflation and high cost of production has plunged Kpogas sales 30% less than the same period last year..
Kpogas is not the only furniture dealer frustrated by delays in payment by government.
Furniture City, located at Spintex in Accra, expressed similar sentiments.
Head of Brands and Online Marketing at Furniture City, Kwaku Addo Asamoah, also wants “the unnecessary bureaucracies to getting payment for their orders to cease”.
Furniture City is one of the dealers that import products entirely from countries such as Italy, China and Turkey.
Kwaku Addo Asamoah said because in their case they import the furniture parts for assembly in Ghana, delays in payment is affected by fluctuations in the cedi against the major currencies.
From all indications, Julius Debrah’s call for a deliberate effort for MMDAs to buy from local manufacturers is a step in the right direction.
However, when this start to happen – as current records show MMDAs are yet to make orders from local furniture makers – prompt payment for goods must be a key consideration. Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com | George Nyavor | [email protected]
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