Attracting private investment – The role of integrity and honesty

29 01 2014

Nana Konadu delivers her lectureAddress by former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings at a ceremony organised by The Private Investors Protection Agency at the Sun Lodge Hotel, Accra on Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Mr Chairman, Board of Directors of the Private Investors Protection Agency, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Good morning.

I am honoured to be part of this occasion and to be asked to speak on such an important topic.

 

To be able to attract private investment we must begin by looking at our objectives and our priorities. The overriding objective is to attain a highly productive and growing private sector. To achieve this, Ghana, must reorient the economy by my estimation in two ways.

The first is the enhancement of access into a productive formal sector and the second is a change in the structure of the composition of GDP from existing basic dominance to one that is dominated by manufacturing and services.

These structural transformations will help increase per capita real incomes, enhance the export competitiveness based on goods and services and also provide employment for a large segment of the people to ensure a sustainable environment.

But the re-orientation of the economy will and can only be carried out by an empowered population with the requisite skills and knowledge to plan, and produce quality goods and services for export and domestic markets while undertaking productive practices to enhance the economy.

With this in mind how do we attract private investment, while looking at the issue of integrity and honesty?

If Ghana is going to be a major manufacturing country as we keep hearing, then there are certain basic structures and new initiatives that have to be sustained. Policy makers in government need the capacity to formulate and implement policies conducive to the growth and the development of that sector.

Development of economic professionals, institutional strengthening of all ministries, moving away from jobs for party boys and girls and focussing on our priorities (or priority areas), if we can sustain a capacity of critical institutional policy implementation, internal assessment of our programmes, cut out (wastage) waste through time management and efficiency, then we may be on the road to attracting private investment.

Within the area of attracting this investment is the issue of integrity. Integrity is doing the right thing when no one is looking or is around to see what you are doing. Integrity therefore can only be seen in the light of our laws – taxation laws, business laws and other laws that deal with business and see how effective they are. Are we able to plug the loopholes in our tax laws or are they loose? Do we deal with people who actually go against the laws and the people who are responsible for enforcing the laws? Do we do due diligence on companies that come into our country? Do we have the requisite private companies coming in?

Under Article 36 (4) of the 1992 Constitution, it states s follows:

Foreign investment shall be encouraged within Ghana, subject to any law for the time being in force regulating investment in Ghana.

Can we not grow our own young entrepreneurs to become the venture capitalists of tomorrow? This we can do when one considers issues of transparency, participation and competency as a key element of good business.

Sometimes over burdened rules or regulations in a country or establishment can lead to arbitrariness and to some extent the substitution of public purpose with private purpose on the part of the officers exercising the discretion will be reduced.

Present efforts at reducing barriers/ to entry in setting up companies, regulation to foreign trade investment, foreign participation in capital market operations and public service bureaucracy will be refocused and accelerated based on the lessons learnt.

Integrity or transparency is enhanced when information is made accessible efficiently to the public. Mechanisms for encouraging the information flow between government and the governed, between financial or capital market institutions and participants, between foreign investors and the captains of the commerce, trade and industry, between the government and the private sector and indeed between private/public goods providers and beneficiaries can, or should be designed and implemented.

Transparency or integrity is meaningful and useful in an environment where effective solutions exist whether social or political. The role of the judiciary must be strengthened in the resuscitation of conflicts in taxation, individual and private rights in production and distribution, securities and land transactions. This same transparency and integrity also runs through security institutions, especially police, customs and tax companies. These should all be oriented in support of the private sector development. Their understanding of the private sector and what is required to support it should be expanded and improved.

The areas for potential collaboration are to ensure transparency in the functioning and the institutional development of the private sector in attracting private investment.

Distinguished, Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen; it is obvious that to attract private investment from within and without, we have to ensure that we do not relegate the laws and regulations that guide investment to the background. Our country has various legal frameworks that are supposed to protect investment, boost investor confidence and protect businesses from corrupt practices and habits.

We live in a global climate and cannot afford to operate in a vacuum. The buck stops with all us, so let us all play our role in enhancing the investment climate in Ghana.

Thank you.

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