The CEO of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), Nana Osei-Bonsu, has stressed the need for more support from the government if indigenous businesses are to succeed.
Speaking during the Investment Opportunities Forum at the Citi Business Festival, Mr. Osei-Bonsu said this would be more beneficial to Ghanaian businesses and investors, asserting that, “we are not asking for protectionism. We are asking for support.”
[contextly_sidebar id=”fjRvterpvzI55us0BmMIwX2Z276SsUx7″]He mentioned how other countries support their own business by “subsidizing their businesses to come here [to Ghana].”
“If a business in Holland is coming to explore possibilities in Ghana, they can tap into a resource to do feasibility studies at zero cost to them. Do we have that support in our system? No, we don’t. You have to use your limited resources, in addition to all the studies and research that you need.”
As another example, he noted that an international hotel chain borrows could in an external environment at a 3 percent interest rate, but a Ghanaian hotel chain borrows at 30 percent.
Mr. Osei-Bonsu also noted the failings within the Ghana Investment Promotion Center that had contributed to the struggles of indigenous businesses.
“The minimum requirement for a strategic investor [per the Ghana Investment Promotion Center] is GHc 50 million. How many Ghanaian businesses have GHc 50 million? So automatically, we have sidelined our own people. When the business comes on shore, they apply to GIPC and get a tax exemption. The tax exemption is 25 percent. The Ghanaian doesn’t have GHc 50 million to qualify as a strategic investor so they don’t get the tax exemption.”
The bottom line for Mr. Osei-Bonsu was that, Ghanaian businesses simply aren’t competitive, hence the need for “support from government to undertake everything we need to allow us to be able to be competitive.”
Incentives would boost indigenous businesses
On his part, Yofi Grant, the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) CEO, said a drive to prop up indigenous businesses would be a step in the right direction.
He noted that the GIPC had been a protectionist for long enough, and now needed to start incentivising.
“The preference is to incentivize indigenous businesses not protect them; because all the history and literature seems to indicate that when you incentivize your local business, they do much better that when you protect them.”
“When you protect them, you have other issues that come; competitiveness, quality, Inter-market pricing that does not work well for them. What you want is to elevate them and project them… ours is to make sure that we create our own big businesses,” Mr. Grant explained.
The Investment Opportunities Forum was in partnership with the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), and was aimed at addressing challenges that face locals and foreign investors in Ghana.
The forum is a one-day conversation on the state of Ghana’s readiness to attract the needed investment for economic transformation.
By: Delali Adogla-Bessa/citifmonline.com/Ghana