By Cecil Mensah
Members of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industries and stakeholders in the manufacturing industries, have declared that the declining value of the Cedi can be arrested if Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the country are assisted to grow.
According to the stakeholders, this can be done when the banks are urged by the Bank of Ghana (BoG) to offer long to medium term loans to SMEs.
Mr Seth Adjei-Baah, the President of GCCI and former Member of Parliament (MP) for Nkawkaw Constituency in the Eastern Region made this remark when the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) in collaboration with Bank of Ghana (GoG), the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning organized a stakeholders meeting to brief them on the measures taken by the Central bank to arrest the falling Cedi.
The forum was attended by members of the Association of Ghana (AGI), Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Private Enterprises Commission (PEF) and Ghana Union of Traders (GUTA)
Speaking at the forum, Minister of Trade and Industry Haruna Iddrisu says Government and the central bank will not back down in its attempts to control the steep decline of the cedi despite concerns from businesses that the new forex measures are too harsh.
Allaying the fears of the leadership of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) Mr. Iddrisu insisted that the Cedi is the only medium of exchange and the use of foreign currencies in transactions will not be tolerated.
“The situation where every transaction is done in another currency is not acceptable for government, and we mean business in ‘de-dollarising’ the Ghanaian economy. I know the regulations have affected your business but Government remains committed to this” he said.
The Cedi has fallen by 5.1 percent against the Dollar this year, on top of eighteen (18) percent depreciation in 2013.
Mr Millison Narh, a Deputy Governor of the BoG, who also addressed the business owners said the steep decline pose a threat to the already stubborn inflation caused the central bank to raise its key lending rate from sixteen (16) percent to eighteen (18) percent last week.
The new regulations, which among other things outlaw the transfers from one foreign exchange account to another and prohibit over-the-counter withdrawals of foreign currency except for travel purposes
This will reduce speculation and improve the availability of forex in the banking system.
But the AGI leadership bemoaned the fact they were not consulted before the new measures were introduced. AGI’s president, James Asare-Adjei said the new regulations are a mark of betrayal if indeed the government considers the private sector as a strategic partner to development