Online, Daily Graphic: August 21, 2023
Speakers at a public dialogue have demanded a national policy to promote the country’s service sector
They said although industrialisation was important for national development, the service sector held the key for expanding the economy, creating sustainable jobs and growing the gross domestic product (GDP). They were speaking at the event to mark the 40th anniversary celebration of the advocacy and non-profit organisation, CUTS International. CUTS International, is an advocate for pro-trade, pro-equity of the Global South in international trade and development.
Those who made the call were the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber of Tourism, Odelia Ntiamoah; Executive Secretary of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, Nlaliban Wujangi; the Head of Business at the Ghana Exim Bank, Frank Obeng; and the CEO of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI), Mark Badu Aboagye.
In a panel discussion on the topic “positioning the Ghanaian service Sector to take advantage of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” they stressed that strategic investment in key service sectors such as education, health, information and communication technology (ICT), would be critical to national development.
Mr Badu-Aboagye said there was enough evidence that the service sector was the major driver of economic growth across the world for which reason Ghana needed to prioritise it. “If we really want to expand the economy, create jobs and grow our GDP, we should develop the service sector, focusing on education, health and ICT; that is where the opportunities are,” he said. Again, he underscored the need for the country to invest in critical infrastructure for the service sector to thrive. He observed that in the wake of the implementation of AfCFTA the country must adopt progressive policies to promote trade in services.
For instance, he noted that tax rebates and other incentives needed to be rolled out to make the cost of doing business cheaper so as to ensure that services were provided at competitive prices. Mrs Ntiamoah said the service sector could be leveraged for national development if investments in the education, health and ICT value chains were linked to the tourism sector. She said although the tourism sector could be used to project education, ICT, health and other service sectors it was over-burdened with more than ten taxes. “We need to look at these taxes and take out some of them if we want to use tourism to promote the service sector and be competitive,” she said.
Transportation, rest stops
Mr Wujangi speaking on inland water transport systems, said it was important to invest in that sector to reduce the transport cost to landlocked countries. He also said there should be more investment in rest stops to ensure that road crashes related to fatigue driving were reduced so that service providers would feel safe to use the roads. Again, he underscored the need for businesses in the service sector to imbibe technology to promote the delivery of services. Touching on financing the service sector, Mr Obeng said the Ghana Exim Bank was ready to provide the needed funds for businesses to thrive. “We provide loans at rates lower than 20 per cent and we are committed to supporting businesses in the service sector to develop,” he said.