The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) is urging government to remain focused in its Industrial Transformation Agenda and unwavering in its decision to implement the reversal of the benchmark discount policy.
“While a number of countries offer export rebates to their firms to develop export trade, Ghana’s benchmark discount policy offers universal import rebate that only promotes importation and this policy distorts our micro and macro-economic fundamentals”, it disclosed in a statement signed by it its President, Dr. Humphrey Ayim-Darke. Indeed, nothing explains the creation of sustainable jobs and economic emancipation better than the right industrial policy decisions and that deliberate effort to industrialise.
“Indeed, nothing explains the creation of sustainable jobs and economic emancipation better than the right industrial policy decisions and that deliberate effort to industrialise”, it added.
Guided by the overarching framework of Ghana’s industrial transformation agenda, 1D1F initiatives, Planting for Food and Jobs, fertiliser subsidy and Ghana’s export development agenda, the AGI said it believes the benchmark discount policy in its current form is counterproductive to government’s own agenda to industrialise.
“To mention a few, we have seen government commission the Savelugu rice factory in August and Sefwi Akontombra rice factory in September just last year. These two recent investments totaling about s14 million risk becoming redundant if such large rice imports persist. Investor confidence is waning, and no investor would like to invest in a real sector that is currently exposed to the influx of imports as we have”, it stressed.
It pointed out that industrialisation is so central to Ghana’s economic liberation, adding, “we cannot afford to sacrifice our industrial initiatives for such short-term gains that serve the interest of few importers.
Furthermore, the AGI said the policy is very regressive and will be most unfortunate if maintained in its current form.
Continuing it said: “AGI supports economic cooperation and multi-lateral trade, the reason why Ghana has signed a number of trade agreements. But we also note that signing of trade agreements such as AfCFTA and the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (iEPA), alone will not guarantee the gains we desire. These will only be meaningful if we build local production capacity to create jobs and export”.
“Manufacturers are finding it difficult to retain their employees, with such influx of imports at cheap prices displacing their products on the market. The
benchmark discount policy in its current form could worsen the unemployment situation. The future of our country and our youth should guide us in our quest to promote policies that spur economic growth, industrialisation and sustainable job creation”, it emphasised.
The AGI welcomed stakeholder dialogue on the benchmark discount within the context of what is best for the country, noting, “we do understand why some of our importers and traders are unable to broach the topic of industrialisation. Indeed, industrialisation is a difficult path in doing business. It may sound long-term and possibly deprive some businesses of short-term gains. But we all need to make sacrifices for our country to develop and that is the reality. Our sacrifices will eventually pay off.”
It made a clarion call on all well-meaning persons and groups including the Trades Union Congress, the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union, the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industries, and the Ghana Union of Traders Association to support this worthy cause of the reversal of the benchmark discount policy in the national interest.
It concluded, urging government to continue creating that favourable policy framework for Industry to thrive and create prosperity.