President Akufo-Addo (3rd left), in a group photograph with the delegation from UMB Bank after a meeting at the Flagstaff House in Accra
The ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) campaign promise to put up a factory each in the 170 districts of the country received a major boost yesterday when the Board and Management of the Universal Merchant Bank (UMB) committed to support it with $100million seed money.
This came to light when a management team of the bank led by its Board Chairperson, Betty Zormelo paid a courtesy call on President Akufo-Addo at the presidency.
Declaring their intentions to the President, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Bank, John Awuah said “our vision is to align 100 percent with this initiative and to be the bank of choice when it comes to any enterprise that decides to partner or take part or be a participant in the initiative of ‘One-District, One-Factory’.”
“To this end, as an institution, we have devoted up to $100million which we will be using as a seed to assist the various companies, enterprises, entrepreneurs that will approach either the Ministry of Trade or the Ministry of Business Development or which other Ministry that will be responsible for this and is qualified will go through our own processes and we will assist the enterprise with up to $1million in their set up”, he told the President.
The Bank has since set up a department solely responsible for assisting and financing any individual or organisation interested in developing or building a factory in each of the 170 districts in the country.
President Akufo-Addo could not but express surprise at the Bank’s decision to support the course with a seed capital that much.
“To come across a bank that says it has a $100milion ready to support the project; that’s a major piece of news for us”, he said in awe.
He acknowledged the fact that the Bank has gone through turbulent times in recent times but was sure the storm was over.
“I am understanding from the way you are talking and the way you are here, that it’s over and a certain amount of stability has now been brought into your operations of the bank”, he said.
For him, “mostly important is how we in government and you in the private sector can work together in a very transparent and productive manner to bring an initiative like this to fruition.”
But for now, the President noted “our main concern is establishing the policy, providing the regulatory framework and also doing our best to control the business environment in the country, looking at reducing interest rates in our country, stabilising our currency, improving our tax revenue system.”
The basic responsibility of government, according to him, was to create the enabling environment for businesses to flourish and not to have competing interest with the business community.
“Nobody is going to come forward and ask for a part of this $100million to do the work; it’s important that you know from the onset that you are dealing with a government of people who are interested in pushing the public interest, not our personal interest”, he assured.
So long as there is clearer understanding between government and the business community, President Akufo-Addo stressed “I think that we have the basis for a very fruitful interaction…hoping that already the relationship you have built with the Ministry of Trade and Industry means that problems that you may have or issues that you may want to have resolved, will be resolved at their end.”
That notwithstanding, he gave them the opportunity to fall back on him in case of any difficulty, even though he preferred any such issues would be resolved at the Ministerial level.
“But if it becomes necessary for you to come back here, know that my doors are opened to you; we all want to work together to develop Ghana”, he told Board and management of UMB.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu, Presidential Correspondent