IMF deal critical for UK investor confidence in Ghana – Jon Benjamin
British High Commissioner to Ghana, Jon Benjamin, says it is important for Ghana to strive harder to tackle macroeconomic challenges stipulated in the three-year programme with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Mr Benjamin wants government to pursue and meet the demands outlined in IMF fiscal support programme as it will facilitate the reversal of dwindling UK-Ghana bilateral trade figures.
The three-year IMF programme with $918 financial support demands that government pursues fiscal adjustments to check ballooning public spending, improve revenue generation and structural reforms to strengthen public finances.
Speaking at a short ceremony to launch the UK-Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC) at his residence in Accra, Mr Benjamin said progress with the IMF programme will attract UK investments to Ghana.
“Indeed that progress is important for investor confidence along with other actions to tackle potential barriers to business such as the regulatory environment, licensing rules, custom procedures, land registration issues and of course the thorny issue of corruption,” he said.
Bilateral trade figures between Ghana and the UK has taken a nose dive over the last three years.
Trade in goods and services between the two countries fell from £1.3 billion pounds in 2013 to £ 1 billion in 2014 and 2015 figures, due out soon, are projected to be worse.
These notwithstanding, Mr Benjamin said the future looks bright, projecting that overall figures could reach a record high by 2020.
He said the launch of the UKGCC will herald a new chapter in efforts to improve trade relations between the two countries.
The chamber, which currently has a membership of 20 companies, will promote, foster, and represent UK business interests in Ghana.
UKGCC will also assist UK companies to identify market opportunities and provide them with a first point of call when looking to do business in Ghana. It would also support Ghanaian companies looking to export into the UK or looking for British businesses to partner with.
“We recognize that UK companies have a huge choice as to where to trade and invest worldwide and in doing so, like any other company, they are naturally driven by hard business calculations not sentiment so market conditions and sound economic management everywhere, including here in Ghana, are a key consideration for those companies,” Mr Benjamin said.
Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Hannah Tetteh, who was also at the UKGCC launch said although the falling trade figures between Ghana and UK is not welcome news, a concerted effort between the two countries to improve the situation will yield results.
“I believe that phase is something that we will get out of very quickly especially once we’ve had an organisation like this [UKGCC] established”,
She urged UKGCC to find ways of putting up a better structure to promote trade in all the possible products that can find their way onto the UK market from Ghana and onto the Ghanaian market from the United Kingdom.
Chief Executive of UKGCC, Mr Tony Burkson, said he expects a total membership of not less than 70 companies in the coming days, noting that setting up the Chamber presents unique opportunities for both UK and Ghanaian companies.