The 2016 presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, is assuring Ghanaian entrepreneurs and small business owners that his government, God-willing, from 2017 will create the necessary conditions needed for Ghanaian businesses to flourish.
At a meeting of self-employed and small scale business people in the Brong Ahafo Region, Nana Akufo-Addo indicated that his government will support local and small-scale entrepreneurs by providing a conducive and enabling business environment for businesses to grow and compete in our region and beyond.
On the first day of his tour of the Brong Ahafo Region on Monday, October 5, Nana Akufo-Addo interacted with a host of identifiable groups and businesses owners to listen to their concerns at Sunyani. The groups, totalling 38 in number, included members of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU); Ghana National Association of Teachers; National Association of Graduate Teachers; market women; local restaurant operators; fish and meat sellers; second-hand clothes dealers; tailors; barbers; hairdressers; butchers; taxi drivers; members of the Private Transport Operators Association; amongst others.
Their major concerns centred on the unstable nature of Ghana’s currency, high interest rate charges from banks, as well as the high import duties they are faced with at the ports, which, they explained, posed a serious challenge to the survival of their businesses.
“Because of the high import duties, we are forced to transfer this cost onto the consumer. Things are very difficult in Ghana at the moment, and as such people do not even patronise our wares anymore. How can we survive?” a business woman asked.
Representatives of the Taxi No. 2 branch in Sunyani also complained about high premiums being charged by insurance companies, which they stated had increased from some GH¢70 to something within the region of GH¢400.
Speaker after speaker poured out the frustrations they are faced with on a daily basis, in their attempts to make ends meet and cater for their dependants, as well as employees.
Taking his turn to speak, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that the founding fathers of the political tradition he belongs to had two fundamental concerns.
The first concern, according to him, was that Ghana should be a democratic state, governed under the rule of law.
“Secondly, they believed that Ghana’s economic development should be undertaken by the private sector. They were of the firm belief that Ghana had an abundance of entrepreneurial talents which should be given free rein to develop, as this represents the best way to develop Ghana rapidly,” he said.
He explained that the crippling economic situation prevailing in Ghana is as a result of the gross economic mismanagement and widespread corruption the country has been plunged into under 7 years of incompetence on the part of the NDC-led government.
There was, however, hope for them, Nana Akufo-Addo said. Victory for the NPP next year will restore hope.
He assured them that his government will rationalise the fiscal regime to encourage local production and businesses. He said his government will provide fiscal incentives and institutional support to promote and spur development of the private sector, which will, in turn, move Ghana away from being highly indebted and poor.
“There was a time in Ghana, under the era of President Kufuor, when the banks were literally chasing people to come for loans. It is the reverse, now, under this government. I can assure you that when we come to office, we will have such times in Ghana again. All we seek to do is to create conditions to allow self-employed and private enterprises to flourish, and to stimulate entrepreneurial ingenuity”, he assured.
Answering a question posed by the Regional representative of the Concerned Teachers Association on Ghana’s current educational system, which, in their opinion, centred only on the “traditional form of education”, Nana Akufo-Addo explained that countries that have developed have placed emphasis on industrial and technological education.
Germany, which operates a dual system of education, according to Nana Akufo-Addo, employs the use of traditional education alongside technological and industrial education. This, he said, has resulted in Germany becoming the most powerful economy in Europe.
“An Akufo-Addo government will place more emphasis on industrial and technological education. If we want to transform the structure of our economy, it will be hinged on the kind of human resource that we churn out,” he explained.
Nana Akufo-Addo assured them that “I am coming to do an honest job for Ghana. Our nation’s money will not find its way into my pockets. I am coming to do a job for Ghanaians, so they can have their economic freedom.”
However, Nana Akufo-Addo noted that without the active support of the gathering towards ensuring that the NPP wins the 2016 election, the plans he has outlined may not see the light of day.
“I am urging you to help take the NPP’s message to every household and actively canvass for the return of the NPP into power in 2016, so we can rebuild Ghana again. We have done it before, and I am assuring you that we can move Ghana away from the difficult conditions she finds herself in,” he added.
This appeal by Nana Akufo-Addo was met by a very enthusiastic response from the gathering, with the leaders of the various identifiable groups present assuring the NPP flagbearer of their resolve towards ensuring the NPP is brought back into office, as this represents their only hope of turning around the fortunes of their respective businesses.