Selected small-scale industries are to benefit from a major stimulus package from next year to transform their businesses to become internationally competitive.
The details of the package being fashioned out by the government will be outlined in the 2014 Budget.
The proposed package is also intended to revive the ailing manufacturing sector and create employment.
During a visit to the Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) in Accra yesterday, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, said, “It is the policy of the government to ensure that no player in the private sector suffers because of his or her political affiliation.”
The visit, which also took the minister to the National Board for Small-Scale Industry (NBSSI), was to outline government policies and intended programmes for the two institutions.
The minister would not tell how much the selected industries would be given, but said “all will be spelt out in the budget”.
Mr Iddrisu said the local industrialists would be selected from the pharmaceutical, cashew and horticultural sectors and that the selection would be based on their ability to pay back the money within a certain time frame.
Another condition for selection would be the ability of the industrialists to pay the social security contributions of their workers.
The EDAIF legislation is being reviewed by a special committee, chaired by a former President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Mr Tony Oteng-Gyasi, which is expected to deliver a report in the next couple of weeks.
“A future revised EDAIF legislation will provide a stimulus package that encourages and facilitates agricultural production, enhances exports and builds a viable manufacturing sector with the capacity to export,” he said.
Mr Iddrisu expressed the hope that when the legislation was finally passed, the government would be in a better stead to make agriculture and industry major contributors to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
He said the inability of young entrepreneurs to access funds had become a bane, a situation that contributed to making them unemployed.
As part of the government’s effort to support small-scale businesses, the board will now act as an administrative body responsible for distributing funds to small-scale industries.
At the NBSSI, Mr Iddrisu said the government would empower the board with adequate funding for it to effectively discharge its objectives.
He said the government would engage stakeholders for the development of an SME policy to guide the activities of small and medium enterprises in the country.
He said it was the intention of the government that the NBSSI was positioned and given the capacity to lead the government’s new small-scale industrialisation initiative programme (SSIIP) which would take off in 2014.
The SSIIP, according to the minister, was intended to provide one viable industrial activity in each district of the country.
Mr Iddrisu, therefore, tasked the NBSSI to create additional offices in all the 10 regions of the country for businesses to access its services.
With the growing unemployment rate in the country, he said, the government had no excuse but strengthen the NBSSI to provide sustainable jobs for the youth.
For his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the NBSSI, Mr Lukman Abdul-Rahim, said a major challenge against the operations of the board was the lack of funds to support SMEs.
He said since the beginning of 2013, the NBSSI was yet to receive financial support from the government, adding, “This has made it difficult for us to bring into fruition many of our intended policies.”