Mr Kobina Tahir Hammond, the Minister of Trade and Industry, has implored members of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry and other business owners to reduce their prices and help make life a little bearable for the consumer.
He said this was for the sake of their corporate social responsibility to their consumers and the country.
Mr Hammond was speaking at the 47th Annual General Meeting of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce (GNCCI) on the theme: “Building Business Confidence Amid Economic Challenges”.
He said the government would reciprocate the gesture by establishing the appropriate economic framework “so we collectively thrive as a nation.”
“The whole nation, while breathing a collective sigh of relief, will be so proud of you,” he added.
The Minister said, “and who knows, you and your Chamber may be a prime candidate for the Grand Medal of the Order of the Volta.”
“We live in a modern and free and liberal economy in which the Government has no direct hand in the pricing of goods and services,” he said.
He assured the business community their businesses were the key to the county’s competitiveness in the domestic market as well as within the context of AfCFTA.
“Without you, the impact we seek to harness from trade agreements would not materialise. I request you to continue to keep faith in the government, support government initiatives with their constructive inputs and know-how and enrich our reform programmes with your experience so that together we can build the most business-friendly economy in Africa,” he added.
He said there was a recurrent theme in public discourse which centred on the excessive profit that some businesses make without considering the various cost and input factors of their production.
He said, “I have on many occasions heard your plaintive cries about the taxes and levies you pay to the government, but I am bound to ask the question whether these are all reasons why the cost of living in Ghana is so unacceptably high.”
The Minister said no one was asking the businesses not to make decent profits.
Dr. Clement Osei-Amoako, the President of the Ghana National Chamber Of Commerce And Industry (GNCCI), said the lack of export diversification clearly showed the structural weakness of the Ghanaian economy and the difficulties the private sector faced, which calls for urgent structural reforms.
He said despite achieving some level of stability in the exchange rate following the disbursement of the first tranche of the IMF funds and the gradual decline in the inflation rate, there was still much work to be done, particularly in the manufacturing sector.
“This is crucial for implementing structural reforms, diversifying, and increasing exports, creating employment, and salvaging many Ghanaians from poverty,” he added.
He said the government would have to implement policies that supported investment and private sector growth in the areas of manufacturing, agriculture, and food production to fuel a structural transformation process for growth.
The President said this would help to reduce inflation given the contribution of food prices to inflation in the country, without employing further monetary tightening.
He said as the country expected the second disbursement from the IMF loan facility, it was expedient for the government to approach the current economic crises through domestic policy measures that address critical issues affecting the private sector to boost domestic production.
Dr Osei-Amoako said more importantly, there was the need to properly align the country’s monetary and fiscal policies to address the high cost of doing business in Ghana.
He said the government must cut down drastically on the budget deficit to avoid competing with the private sector for funds.
“Given the current economic conditions and the already tight monetary policy, further attempts to compete with the private sector for funds in the domestic money market will bring significant distortions in the economy,” he added.
He said the government must improve efficiency regarding public investment and cut wasteful spending and to use improved fiscal space to scale up growth-enhancing spending, efficiently manage the wage bill, and review the size of government as cost-saving measures.
He said the government should double its efforts to widen the tax base to reduce the burden on the few compliant taxpayers while employing prudent means of addressing tax non-compliance.
The President said the Chamber expected the government to use the impending budget to initiate policies that would stimulate private sector growth.