In the wake of the deadly COVID-19 virus outbreak, which Ghana has now recorded 7 cases and still counting, the Alliance for Development and Industrialization, (ADI), one of the leading think tank groups in the country, is asking the government to consider this pandemic as a wake-up for the growth of the country’s industrialization.
“We consider this as a compelling opportunity to be innovative as a country and change our old ways as a people. We humbly submit to the President to change the Ministry of Agriculture to Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Agro industries, since food security is very much important to us as a nation”, it said.
In a press statement issued in Accra and signed by Francis Mensah, the Convener of the group said the government needs to invest US$2billion in the country to position Ghana in self sustaining manner to avert the deadly COVID-19.
The US$2 billion would aid in reviving most of the collapse companies in the country as well as cut down on the country’s import drastically. “If the COVID 19 is not well managed and we fail as a country to take advantage of it to revamp our industries, it would plummet our economy and also put our free SHS program at risk…there is the need to adopt a strategic approach for the country to benefit from this pandemic. We need to adopt an approach that would help to sustain the economy, the free SHS and the budget”, the statement said.
“We need to be very proactive in the sense that the price of crude oil on the international market has dropped by almost 50 percent which would affect the country’s projected oil revenue” it said.
With the US$2 billion, the country can improve upon the Planting for Food and Jobs, (PFJ) after identifying all the bottlenecks. “We can optimize the PFJ with focus on post harvest management and processing. Through this, we can have excess of food to take care of the country”, the statement said.
According to the statement from ADI, Ghanaian industries currently need tax incentives adding that imported goods into the country attract only 3 percent VAT whiles local manufacturing attracts 17.5 percent . Meanwhile the local manufacturer would pay salaries, Pay As You Earn (PAYE) taxes as well as SSNIT. Also, interest rates have to be extremely attractive and have comparisons with that of other industrious countries.
The ADI has expressed the need for government to set up intersectorial committee to transform the private sector as a pivot for the change, with members from agriculture, Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) and top Ghanaian industrialist, finance and trade where agric will be focusing on the production base material development integration with post harvest processing. To this end, projects would be executed by experienced and credible partners and also formulate policies for financing and market access.
“What we need to understand is that, everything of ours as a country is at risk including government’s flagship programs such as the free SHS, we need a non partisan approach to succeed in this”, it said
The country currently imports more than US$350 million worth of juice every year which puts pressure on the cedi. “What we need as a country is to build more factories like the Ekumfi kind of, so the country could save the US$350 million,” it said.
The ADI has asked the government to consider turning the Komenda Sugar factory into a commercial alcohol processing factory as well as other ethanol factories to support the pharmaceutical companies as base of producing hand sanitizers.