We are working, we won’t rest –Prez
The President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, says he acknowledges the load of work to be done in order to transform the country and that, he is working assiduously towards that goal and would not rest on his oars.
The assuring statement from the President comes at a time when pressure is being mounted on government to ‘fix the country.’`
Though some ministers of state have reacted to the social media campaign directly, the President’s statement yesterday, by extension, responds to that among others.
“We know there’s more work to be done and we are doing the work. We will not rest on our oars,” he stated.
President Akufo-Addo said this in Accra while launching the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA), formerly National Board for Small-Scale Industries (NBSSI). He also launched the National Micro, Small and Medium-Scale Enterprises (MSMEs) and Entrepreneurship Policy.
The transformation from NBSSI to GEA, the new agency, does not only look at the micro and small business, but extend its mandate to also include medium businesses.
President Akufo-Addo told the gathering that the GEA had been prescribed by the National MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy to implement the Policy.
“The Act establishing the Agency makes GEA the apex body to co-ordinate and promote the growth and development of MSMEs in the country. GEA will lead the way in creating a dynamic MSME ecosystem and entrepreneurial community to help propel Ghana’s growth,” he said.
According to the President, “The policy direction is to reduce, if not eliminate, the duplication of efforts currently being witnessed in the MSME sector, ensure the judicious use of resources, implement programmes to formalize and support the informal sector, and design interventions to support MSMEs in the country.”
The President at the same event also launched a GH¢145 million SME grant fund, which has been established to support SMEs to recover from the effects of COVID-19 and also help them to restore their operations under the Ghana Economic Transformation Project, backed by the World Bank.
He noted that disbursement of this grant will be made to three hundred and fifty (350) SMEs to help them grow into sustainable businesses, capable of competing on the regional, continental and global stages.
In his speech, President Akufo-Addo indicated that he came into office in 2017, with the vision of transforming the structure of the economy, from one characterised by being mere producers and exporters of raw materials to a value-added industrialised one, which will create the necessary numbers of jobs needed for the teeming masses of Ghanaian youth.
“We cannot realise this vision fully without creating and strengthening an agency for the MSME sector to play a lead role in the transformation process. One might ask, why MSMEs?
The answer is simple. It is because the sector employs more than eighty percent (80%) of the workforce, and generates some seventy percent (70%) of the Gross Domestic Product,” he said.
He explained that it is why at the height of the pandemic in Ghana, the government announced and implemented of the Coronavirus Alleviation Programme Business Support Scheme (CAPBuSS).
“The goal was to limit the impact of the pandemic on job losses and livelihoods by supporting MSMEs. Administered by the then NBSSI, now GEA, the novel seven hundred- and fifty-million-cedi (GH¢750 million) stimulus package from Government to the private sector, provided relief to various business, in order to help sustain them and help keep staff on the payroll,” he said.
Speaking to the media on the sidelines of the launch, the Acting CEO, GEA, Kosi Yankey-Ayeh stated that the NBSSI does not exist anymore, but it is a transformed institution, called the Ghana Enterprises Agency (GEA).
She said that, “This is a new agency that does not only look at the micro and small businesses but expands its mandate to also include medium, and the reason why this has become so important and crucial is to get rid of the outmoded Act and bring in a new Act so that we can actually grow the businesses and accelerate them.
She further remarked that, in the past, there was support to build the SME businesses, but through COVID-19 intervention, they have realised that there was the need to strengthen and broaden the base of the SMEs as they created more jobs for the youth, thus the GH145 grant fund.
She also highlighted on non-resourced businesses, explaining that they are the mining and others, but was emphatic that the funds are for manufacturing and industrilalisation business.
When asked when the funds would be ready, Kosi Yankey-Ayeh said “the fund is ready.
The portal for the fund would go live on Monday, this coming Monday,” she stressed.
She continued, “So as the President said, the commitment is there, the resources are ready, so we are not here to make promises and just say we have a policy.
“Now that we have a policy and have set up an agency to deliver on the policy, what next? The tools and resources are available to move us to the next level.”
The Minister for Trades and Industry, Alan Kyerematen, in his remarks, opined that, the new support for the SMEs will empower them to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
According to him, SMEs hold the key to the industrialisation and employment drive of every economy in the world.
He cited Amazon, Kasapreko Company Limited and the Despite Group of Companies to make the point of how important SMEs are in the economy of countries, as they employ more people.
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, recalled the numerous policies the Akufo-Addo government has rolled out aimed at supporting to fortify businesses in post COVID-19 era.
Mr Ken Ofori-Atta believed the transformation of NBSSI to GEA would help restructure the activities within the MSME sector, provide the necessary funding and support for such businesses.