WB-EU Joint Event on Business Climate  


WB-EU Joint Event on Business Climate  

On Monday the 13th of March the World Bank and the European Delegation to Ghana organised a joint event on the business climate in Ghana in the Labadi Beach Hotel. The turnout was good and you could also follow the event online. The event started 40 minutes later due to the late entrance of Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta , Minister of Finance who represented the Ghana government.

Soon after the event was opened by Mr Raffaele Quarto, First Trade Counsellor of the EU Delegation, who introduced the first speakers making the welcoming remarks . These were H.E. Irchad Razaaly, Ambassador of the EU Delegation, Mr Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director and Hon. Ken Ofori Atta, Minister of Finance.

After these remarks there was an overview presentation  by the WB’s Ms Hania Kronfol, Snr Private Sector Specialist on Ghana’s investment cimate and the Bank’s support on this agenda . This was followed by a panel discussion on business views on the investment climate in Ghana and ways to improve it. The panellists where Ms. Jean Ng, Regional Director, West & Central Africa Enterprise Singapore, Mr Tjalling Yme Wiarda, GM of GNBCC, Ms Mary Kwarteng Darko, PwC – Associate Director, Tax Services, Mr Grant Webber, President GSABC, Mr Hakim Ouzzani, MD of SG Bank Ghana and Mr Asad Nazi, CEO Silver Star Auto Ltd. The Moderator of the panel was Mr Seth Twum-Akwboah, CEO of Association of Ghana Industries (AGI)

The panel spoke about an array of challenges in the current business climate of Ghana such as the policies on local content : as an example the policy demand of the Minerals Commission that suppliers ( a list of 50 sectors which includes warehousing, logistics, freight forwarding) who offer their services to the Mining Industry, should  all  have a 100% Ghanaian ownership and Management. This  while an indigenous company is defined by Ghana law as being a company who has a 51% Ghanaian ownership and 80% Ghanaian Management. Basically a rule in contradiction to the official rules and regulations of Ghana and creating insecurity for the foreign investor community . Insecurity because of the fear of a lot of foreign investors, who have already established companies in Ghana , that with a next round or listing,  they will be targeted on local ownership. Next  to the Minerals Commission there are similar legal entities doing the same such as the Energy Commission, National Communications Authority, the Petroleum Commission etc.  – they all have in common that they overrule any investor agreements of foreign investors with the Ghana Investment Promotion Agency (GIPC).

Another item mentioned was the unequal regulations between companies and the GRA; to be precise a company when audited by the GRA gets a 30 day deadline before which they need to respond while the GRA doesn’t have any deadline when the company responds hence no level playing field. The GRA is showering companies with multiple tax audits and claiming high amounts which in 99% are disputed ; subsequently there is often  an urge with the GRA to get the 30% of your disputed tax audit amount asap. In general authorities should have clear boundaries

Another panellist mentioned the uncertainty of the near future of Ghana’s economy , there is no meaningful consultation by the government before new rules are implemented ; the submission in the final phase of new rules and regulations, which can have an enormous impact on business, just a few weeks before implementation is no consultation . In most cases when the industry comes up with their comments experience learns that the government doesn’t do anything with it – it seems there is no interest. On the development of the AfCFTA , the common market in Africa one of the panellists noticed that Ghana is not yet ready, SME’s are the problem and are not ready , also the high utility prices plus the high cost of credit are not helping. Ghana needs more time to prepare for AfCFTA. The lack of skills of students is also a challenge, basically having a high diploma but not able to write a letter or an  e-mail was mentioned as an example.  

After the panel discussion the audience could react but all statements and / or questions were pointed to the Hon. Minister of Finance or the deputy Head of GIPC, Mr Yaw Afriyie instead of the panelists. After being asked a few times Hon. Ken Ofori Atta made a statement on the state of the economy and business climate in which he explained that the macroeconomic stability has improved although Ghana is struggling with the economic problems caused by Covid and the Ukraine War , he compared Ghana with Japan of 40 years ago. In short he compared Ghana with a good strong car which has 4 flat tyres and now the government will replace or repair these tyres so that the Ghana car can again continue on the road of economic growth.

After the lunch Ms. Daniela Gomez Altamirano, WB’s Private Sector Specialist and Mr Yofi Grant, CEO of the GIPC  (present through an online link because he is now promoting Ghana as an investment destination in South America) were doing presentations on supporting investment facilitation and retention through reforms of the GIPC Act. On when the GIPC act will be reformed – the discussions have been going on since 2017 – Mr Grant was not clear in his presentation , the GIPC could not indicate a timeline when the long expected reforms will be presented and implemented by parliament.

The final speaker was Mr Jean Nicolas Arlet , also a WB Private Sector specialist who presented on the regulatory reform agenda through a bottom up approach and the lessons learned for Ghana. The audience found out after this presentation that the Ministry of Trade & industry (MOTI ) had launched in October 2020 a website where companies can find all new rules and regulations of the Ghana government ; Click Here to comment through this site;  it is called Ghana Business Regulatory Reforms portal. A very good initiative !

The event closed with a cocktail in the gardens of the Labadi Beach Hotel

GNBCC | News