The Ghanaian Business Community in New York has expressed its commitment to double efforts towards the socio-economic development of the country through innovative partnerships.
This was at the maiden business forum organized by the Permanent Mission of Ghana to the United Nations and attended by 50 Ghanaian entrepreneurs in various fields like aviation, shipping, tourism, real estate as well as financial analysts, food and non-traditional importers from Ghana to discuss various ways they can enhance their contributions to the Ghanaian economy. It is part of a series planned for the community to come together and create effective ways for accelerated socio-economic development.
The participants unanimously agreed to establish a Cooperative Credit Union to cater for their financial needs.
They argued that given the huge capital they can easily mobilize within the New York business community, the Ghana government can even fall on them (Ghanaians abroad) in future for support, instead of relying on the international financial institutions with their attendant high interest rates and suffocating conditionalities.
They complained bitterly about the difficulties they go through at the United States of America ports whenever they import various food items and beverages, like Milo from Ghana. The present bureaucratic procedures have negatively affected their businesses and therefore urged the Trade Ministry in Ghana to take up the issue with its counterpart in the US.
During the deliberations, the participants also kicked against the high taxes on imported vehicles and other household items from Ghanaians abroad and urged the government to deliberately reduce the pricing formula since it affects their businesses and drives them to do other businesses, apart from the government losing revenue to smuggling and other shady hand deals.
On tourism, they suggested the formation of a Tourism Committee at the Mission, with members drawn from the Travel agencies and other allied bodies to brainstorm on how to boost the sector, since arguably the country has some of the best tourism facilities worldwide, but had not been well advertised and adequately patronized.
The entrepreneurs said the current statistics in that sector could easily be quadrupled, if there is a vigorous campaign and sustained planned tours, festivals, trade fairs and exhibitions to attract enough tourists, investors and businesses.
A shipping agent encouraged the Ghanaian community to use the services of their compatriots in the various professions, since among other things it will inure to the benefit of the country, as it was commonly done by the Jews and Asians.
Earlier, the Charge d’affaires of the Mission, Mr. Philbert Abaka Johnson emphasized that the contribution of the five million Ghanaian diaspora cannot be ignored in the country’s quest for sustainable development, job creation, balancing of trade and budget deficits, among others.
‘National development is the collective and inclusive enterprise of all citizens, irrespective of where they reside, hence such an important responsibility cannot be left to the government or foreign investors alone”, he stated.
It was with this in view that Mr .Johnson, who is the Deputy Permanent Representative explained that the Mission organized the forum to forge closer relations between the Ghanaian business community in the Tri-states to strengthen their capacities for accelerated development, explore avenues, networks and linkages to spur them on the socio-economic development and particularly to establish innovative and creative ways to support Ghana.
On his part, Mr. Bernard K. Quantson, Consul General of Ghana in New York advised them as valued stake holders of Ghana to pull their energies together into a Consortium or Companies to bid for various contracts in Ghana, instead of leaving all the work to foreigners to apply and win such jobs.
The moderator, Mr. Kofi Boateng, Executive Director of Wet Harlem Development Cooperation challenged the Ghanaian Diaspora to galvanize themselves into a formidable group,since their contributions in total is far more than what the Ghana government gets annually from foreign donors. For example, he said they can easily raise $15billion, which is far in excess of what the government can dream of abroad.
Mr. Ofori Anor, former Executive Secretary General of the National Council of Ghanaian Associations recounted similar forums in the past that did not yield the desired goals because the action was not sustained and therefore urged them to be bold, purposeful and implement all the measures outlined.