Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen
The Minister-designate for Trade and Industry, Alan Kwadwo Kyerematen, yesterday rapped members of the Appointments Committee on the feasibility of the ‘one district, one factory’ flagship policy of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, even though the minority members on the committee tried to pin him down on the feasibility of the policy.
In an unambiguous exposition, the Minister-designate, who was grilled for over three hours, said the policy, which is going to fast-track the industrialisation agenda of the government, would be hinged on the promotion of the private sector to help establish many district enterprises and provide jobs for the teeming unemployed and improve the lives of Ghanaians.
He has, therefore, called on all Members of Parliament (MPs) to actively involve themselves in pursuing this noble policy – which is aimed at addressing the huge unemployment situation in the country – by looking for private investors to come and invest in enterprises in the various constituencies to help give meaning to that ‘big dream.’
Mr Alan Kyerematen, fondly called Alan K or Alan Cash, said his ministry would be playing the leading and pivotal role in giving life to the ‘one district, one factory’ policy and that this would be done by creating an industrial development fund, facilitating capital financing, vigorously promoting domestic trade, promoting export and business development.
He said the policy would immediately start by identifying all distressed state industries and viable private enterprises in collaboration with the various metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies.
He added that funds would be made available for the resuscitation of such industries.
He mentioned the Zuarungu Meat Factory, Pwalugu Tomato Factory and Ghana Cotton Company in the Upper East and Upper West Regions as typical examples of such factories that would be revived under the present government to give meaning to its ‘one district, one factory’ policy.
The Minority members on the Appointments Committee, led by the Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu, pushed the nominee hard to the wall to provide the source of funding for those factories and when the policy would actually take off since many Ghanaians are expecting the NPP government to fulfill its electoral promise.
But the Minister-designate said a percentage of the $1 million seed money for each constituency would be dedicated to that cause in addition to sourcing funds from the Consolidated Fund.
He also indicated that it is worthwhile to borrow from the international market to support such industries, which are productive in nature to be able to repay for themselves rather than borrowing to finance capital projects.
According to Mr Kyerematen, investment forums would also be held in the various districts for potential investors from the private sector, as well as MPs and other players to come and share ideas as to how the industrialization agenda could be pushed further.
“Mr Chairman, there is a lot of goodwill from the private sector to support this agenda and many private investors are willing to come and partner the government in this direction,” he revealed.
On the timeframe for the ‘one district, one factory’ to come to fruition, the Minister-designate told the committee that a normal factory takes about one-and-a-half years to two years to be built, “but with the assessment made for the resuscitation of the potentially viable but distressed companies in the various districts, it could take just about six months for a district enterprise to be resuscitated and be back on its feet to produce.”
He also indicated that it is the aim of this government to provide sustainable and affordable energy to power these industries by looking at renewable energy supplements.
The Minister-designate also pointed out that his ministry intends to pursue aggressive agenda of value addition to local products and that will also help with the establishing of processing factories in the country, as well as promoting ‘Made in Ghana’ goods with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) playing a key role.
Mr Kyerematen also pointed out to the committee that the ministry will strengthen the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) to satisfactorily fulfill its mandate of supporting small and medium-scale enterprises in the various districts.
He said new and young entrepreneurs with well thought-out business plans would be supported through the Micro Finance and Small Loan Centre (MASLOC) under the ministry to set up their own businesses.
He said to make the ministry very proactive, he intends to carry out institutional audit of all agencies under the ministry to make them more effective and globally competitive.
He also mentioned the Komenda Sugar Factory where he would ensure private sector participation to ensure that the factory comes back to life and produces at maximum capacity.
According to the Minister-designate, it is the dream of the Akufo-Addo government to reduce Ghana’s import of sugar and therefore, another sugar factory would be set up in the Northern Region to boost sugar production in the country.
The Minister-designate for Foreign Affairs, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, who also appeared before the Appointments Committee, said the main foreign policy of the NPP government is to ensure how to take advantage of the huge market of 350 million people in the ECOWAS sub-region and African Union as a whole, to promote its goods and services.
Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey
He said the NPP government is also committed to peace and stable continent to ensure accelerated growth of the African continent.
The Local Government and Rural Development Minister-designate, Hajia Alima Mahama, defended her position in relieving the 216 Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) from their posts.
Hajia Alima Mahama
She said she did not err in writing the letter and that she took that action under the direction of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo after he had been sworn in as president.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Gambaga/Nalerigu made these remarks when she took her turn before Parliament’s Appointments Committee.
Hajia Mahama received backlash for signing a letter in which MMDCEs appointed by the outgone National Democratic Congress (NDC) government were asked to quit their positions.
In the letter dated January 12, she directed the MMDCEs to hand over documents to their Coordinating Directors (MMDCDs).
Explaining further, the nominee disclosed that she authored the letter as a subordinate of the president.
As at press time yesterday, the Minister-designate for Energy and Petroleum Resources, Boakye Agyarko, was being grilled.
By Thomas Fosu Jnr