The Minister designate for Trade and Industry, Mr Alan John Kwadwo Kyerematen, has indicated that the first set of factories under the ‘one district, one factory’ policy will come on board within the next six months.
Answering questions before the Appointments Committee of Parliament yesterday, Mr Kyerematen said the factories or enterprises that would be built from scratch would be on stream after one year, one-and-a-half years or two years, according to the standard gestation period for the establishment of factories.
He said the ‘one district, one factory’ policy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) would be executed under a public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement.
The ‘one district, one factory’ policy was one of the major campaign promises of the NPP for the 2016 elections, but the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) doubted its feasibility.
Mr Kyerematen was a Minister of Trade, Industry and Presidential Special Initiatives from 2003 to 2007, Ghana’s Ambassador to the United States from 2001 to 2003 and Regional Director of Enterprise Africa from 1998 to 2001.
Processes for establishing factories
Responding to a question by the Chairman of the Appointments Committee, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, on how Ghanaians could be part of the policy, Mr Kyerematen said the district assemblies would be encouraged to identify strategic industries that needed to be established or existing companies that needed to be supported to become district enterprises.
He said once the industries were identified, with the support of a technical team, the ministry and districts would identify potential entrepreneurs, especially from the districts.
Thereafter, he said, the technical support team would develop a business plan for the establishment of the identified factories.
“As soon as they prepare a business plan, they will organise an investment forum for potential investors to discuss the possibility of investing in those projects,” he said.
He said the ministry would work closely with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) and Members of Parliament (MPs) on the investment avenues and potential investors.
Besides, he said, a secretariat would be established at the Ministry of Trade and Industry to be the first point of contact for investors interested in the ‘one district, one factory’ policy.
Mr Kyerematen said the Kufuor administration identified three factories in each of the 110 districts then.
He said the new government would review the old plans and update the figures on the identified factories to bring them on board.
Funding of factories
Answering a question from Mr Haruna Iddrisu, the Minority Leader and Ranking Member on the Appointments Committee, on the cost and funding of the factories, Mr Kyerematen said the cost of each enterprise would be determined only after the development of a business plan.
But when pressed further by Alhaji Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, the Minority Chief Whip and Deputy Ranking Member, Mr Kyerematen said each medium-to-large-scale factory would be in the range of between $1 million to $5 million.
He said the factories, which would be mainly agro-based, “will affect the economy of the districts and create employment”.
The minister designate indicated that the government had an agreement in principle for it to allocate a percentage of the $1 million promised for each constituency annually for the execution of the factories in each district.
Besides, he said, the government would support the projects from the Consolidated Fund and also borrow from the capital market to support them.
Mr Kyerematen said the ‘one district, one factory’ policy was one of the six programmes under the industrial transformation agenda meant to create jobs and grow the economy.
He said another programme was to improve the competitiveness of local companies by way of the provision of stimulus packages for them to be more competitive.
He mentioned the establishment of mega anchor industries, improvement and modernisation of the domestic retail sector, export promotion and business development and investment as the rest of the programmes or initiatives to be undertaken by the government.
He said the government would reduce taxes, facilitate access to finance, support market development and intervention and improve access to technology in order to reduce the cost of doing business for the private sector.
Besides, he said, it would initiate legal and regulatory reforms to create the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
Foreign retailers/made-in-Ghana goods
Mr Kyerematen admitted that the country’s retail sector had been invaded by foreigners.
He said the government would work with the security agencies to ensure compliance by foreign retailers, saying, “We will ensure that those areas reserved for Ghanaians will continue to be for them.”
Besides, he said, he would promote an aggressive programme to promote made-in Ghana goods.
To that end, he said, his ministry would use the government’s procurement and local content legislation “to ensure that as long as we are using taxpayers’ money to buy products, we will go for local products”.
Mr Kyerematen said the government would use quiet diplomacy to encourage Nigeria to sign up to the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA).
He said Nigeria being a major market in the sub-region, its inclusion in the EPA deal with the European Union (EU) would give true meaning to the essence of the EPA.
Business Development Minister
He denied suggestions that the work of the Minister for Business Development would conflict with his work as Minister of Trade and Industry.
He said the Minister for Business Development would be a liaison between the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Office of the President by way of allowing the President to have oversight responsibility over business development efforts.
Mr Iddrisu sought to find out whether the past NPP government was able to fulfill its policy decision to establish 20 factories.
Mr Kyerematen said a number of districts were in the process of getting the private sector to support the execution of the projects but indicated that he could not mention the state of the projects.