Interview: Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia
How can Ghana’s competitiveness as an investment destination be improved?
MAHAMUDU BAWUMIA: There are many things that Ghana can do to increase its competitiveness. Maintaining the path of fiscal consolidation and debt sustainability will translate into macroeconomic stability. Once all variables – interest rates, exchange rates and inflation – have been set in the right direction, an environment conducive to business will be in place. Controlling public finances, bringing down the deficit and reducing the tax burden are also part of this. In the current budget exercise, 15 taxes have been abolished with the aim of shifting the focus from taxation to production. There is also an ongoing modernisation effort to benchmark Ghana against the best ports in the world, further adding to the competitiveness of our economy. The Economic Management Team is also focusing on creating the right incentives and improving ease of doing business to encourage private sector participation in areas such as infrastructure development, thereby reducing the pressure on government finances.
What are the next steps required to improve the country’s balance sheet?
BAWUMIA: Formalisation of the economy is critical. An economy cannot perform in a chaotic and disorganised way. All Ghanaians and every piece of property needs to be properly and uniquely identified. The country is embarking on a national identification project, which will provide a unique number for a variety of purposes, such as issuing driver’s licences and passports linked to the digital identity registry, eliminating ghost names from the civil service payroll and reducing the cost of maintaining multiple identity databases. This project will also allow for databases to be linked and credit scoring systems. In addition, a digital property addressing system will be implemented, which will bring further certainty to the economy. Formalisation is linked to financial inclusion, and to further promote it, we are working on an interoperable platform for mobile payments to be unified and more services to be delivered. Reforms with regards to prices and increased private participation in the energy sector are going to be fundamental in cleaning the government balance sheet and implementing policies that prevent high levels of debt from accumulating again.
How can regional disparities in income be reduced?
BAWUMIA: The economic prospects of Ghana are positive, but we must ensure growth is inclusive. Unfortunately, the country is still experiencing poverty in rural areas. To address this, development authorities for the north, the middle belt and the coastal region have been deployed. These authorities will be looking closely at the specific needs of each constituency, allocating the equivalent of $1m a year, and empowering them to address areas such as infrastructure, education and health, in addition to other services.
This focus on empowerment is unprecedented for Ghana. We believe economic growth should not leave people behind, and increasing the well-being of Ghanaians and ensuring they have more disposable income and purchasing power will generate opportunities for business and for citizens seeking employment, thus enabling a stable and inclusive growth environment.
What obstacles does the government face in the rollout of the One District, One Factory initiative?
BAWUMIA: The vision of the president is to move away from dependence on the exportation of raw materials and to add value to the raw materials that Ghana produces in abundance. This should happen in every district. The government’s role is to identify opportunities, highlighting the strength of particular districts and providing the right incentives. The private sector is set to be the leading force in this programme, so the main risk is a lack of coordination of information that would prevent the private sector from actively engaging.
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