Ken Ofori-Atta, the Finance Minister, says Ghana needs a robust financial sector, capable of mobilising and channeling domestic and foreign savings to finance the economic growth and transformation in more effective and efficient manner.
He said the nation needed to double its domestic savings rate from under 10 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) to over 26 per cent of GDP.
“The recent clean-up of the banking sector, led by the Bank of Ghana, has laid the foundation; institutions in the sector are now stronger,” Mr Ofori-Atta stated on Wednesday in Accra at the launch of the maiden National Development Forum organised by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), on the theme “Ghana@100: An Agenda Towards a Solidly Developed Nation”.
“We will be working on a number of initiatives to further strengthen the sector in order to increase domestic savings and ease access to finance, particularly long-term finance, by our business men and women,” he said.
These include strengthening the pension system, strengthening EXIM Bank and GIIF and launching a loan guarantee scheme to encourage bank lending to agriculture.
Others are launching a new dynamic development bank to provide long-term lending to agriculture and manufacturing; and a mortgage-finance scheme to accelerate development of the housing market and facilitate access of Ghanaian workers to decent housing.
Mr Ofori-Atta said: “Parallel with these initiatives, we are also working on a plan to make Ghana a dynamic financial hub of the West African sub-region, and thereby attract significant amounts of external private capital to help accelerate our drive to the Ghana we want!”
The National Development Forum will be a series of a monthly forum to engage the public on development policy and promote ownership and accountability for the implementation of national priorities.
It will focus on topical national issues about the economy; social development; spatial planning; infrastructure development; environment; and governance.
Mr Ofori-Atta said the nation needed such a Development Forum to drill down and to put some meat and bones on the broad vision and framework; which is the “Ghana Beyond Aid” Agenda.
He said the “Ghana Beyond Aid” provided a powerful and appealing vision of where Ghana should be heading as a nation, and it provided a high-level strategy and framework.
He further noted that these must be further developed for operationalisation; adding that the Ministry of Finance was taking a crack at some of the elements; however, there was a lot more that went beyond the purview of the Ministry that needed further study and discussion.
“And even on maters purely fiscal and financial, we at the Ministry could benefit from outside expertise and insights,” he said.
“So, I wholeheartedly welcome the discussions that will be made possible by this Development Forum, and look forward to learning from them, and also participating from time to time.”
Professor Stephen Adei, a Development Economists and Chairman of the NDPC, in his presentation noted that Ghana at hundred must be a solidly developed country, a “Better Ghana Beyond Aid”.
He proposed that there was the need for a long-term plan, which contained the main coordinates of what to do to realise the national vision of Ghana at 100.
“I think that the “Ghana Beyond Aid” document and the draft 40-year long term plan provide the key elements to do that and the NDPC intends to work with the Presidency and Parliament to do exactly that by the end of 2019.”
Prof Emerita Takyiwaa Manuh, Vice Chairperson, NPDC, who chaired the function, said that the 1992 Constitution of Ghana provided the legal basis for governments to envision a just, equitable and inclusive development, and heighten citizens’ expectations of the country.
She noted that successive governments had sought to pursue this goal by embarking on interventions within the medium term, that is, four years at a time.
Madam Carlien Bou-Chedid, President Elect, Federation of African Engineering Organisation, said Ghana@100 would be a developed country at least when measured by today’s standard.
“By this I mean that when it is compared to the countries of today, Ghana will be advanced in terms of infrastructure, industrialisation, income per capita and standards of living”.