When Ghana’s new Investors Advisory Council (IAC) held its debut meeting on May 3, members identified 18 problem areas in government policy, which have been assigned to relevant ministries for action within six months. They include regulatory reforms related to land ownership and mining and labor laws; safety and security; infrastructure, especially for energy, telecommunications, and information technology; financial services infrastructure; public sector sensitivity to the private sector; restoration of competitiveness to the mining sector; the economy’s dependence on aid and commodity exports; and the need for a partnership among government, private sector industries, and labor.
The IAC meeting, chaired by J.H. Mensah, Ghana’s Senior Minister and Chair of the government’s economic management team, was closed to the media to encourage candor in the exchanges between business and the government. According to the statement, members had followed IMF Managing Director Horst Köhler’s recommendation that both sides in the discussions be blunt, clear, and persistent and that they demand action.
Ghana’s Minister of Private Sector Development, Kwamena Bartels noted that the government intended to make Ghana a preferred destination for foreign direct investment, reverse the “brain drain” of skilled workers and executives, and put Ghana on the screens of global portfolio investors. Minister Bartels and the office of President John Kufuor would coordinate operations with the various ministries involved to ensure implementation of the agreed actions and resolution of the issues identified by the IAC. The members encouraged President Kufuor to invite a delegation of Ghanaian business leaders to accompany him on future overseas visits. The IAC will meet again in November 2002 to evaluate the ministries’ actions.