General News of Thu, 27 Jan 20051

'Chinese Barber Loan' is coming - Kyeremanten

The minister designate for Trade, Industry and Presidential Special Initiative (PSI), Allan Kyeremanten yesterday defied all odds and told the Vetting Committee that the CNTCI loan, which was hidden in the cooler in the wake of public apprehensions, is on its way coming.

?It is coming?, he said in response to a question from Hon. Kumbour, as to status of the loan. ?Talking about the address of the lender was irrelevant but what mattered most was the credibility of the lending firm from which the funds were being sought and other material elements? Before this direct promise, Hon. Osafo Marfo, cleverly said that even though not there are legitimate questions about the loan, he was of the opinion that the government must take collective responsibility for the credibility or otherwise of the loan.

Supergeriatric Minister, Hon. J.H Mensah also swerved the danger of soiling his vetting with precision and said that the loan was in the ?backburner?.

Mr. Kyremanten said issues, which preoccupied their quest for the loan was the availability of the funds and the credibility of the lending firm.

With his unimpressive show at the Vetting Committee, Kyeremanten failed to present himself as very sharp fellow who can lead the NPP in the 2008 Presidential race as being speculated by pundits.

Additionally, with his online promise that the CNTCI loan is coming, observers say they are waiting for the end to determine his credibility, but if CNTCI doesn?t o come to Ghana Allan would have hanged himself.

The minister designate was found wanting on several issues relating to his ministry. He could not tell the state of the ministry at the time he assumed office as the minister. ?I can?t be in a position to tell the state of the ministry before I took over but I can only tell what I came to do,? he said.

One area that raised some controversy was the source of funding for the PSIs, since according to the minister the concept was not a public one but was only supported with public funds by way of, ?facilitation?.

Explaining further, he pointed out that public funds that were put into the PSIs were meant for, ? the promotion of grassroots capitalism to boost the private sector, farmer mobilization and facilitating access to technology among individuals and groups involved in the activities of the PSIs.?

The Minority leader wondered why the PSIs were considered as private initiative when the initiator, (the President) was a public figure. He also wondered whether the whole idea of PSI was just a re-branding of already existing concepts or improving the production of commodities like oil palm, salt among others.

The minister designate failed to elaborate on the issue of whether the concept was an entirely new one but chose to call it, ? re-engineering? of existing concepts rather than calling it a re-branding of existing concepts.

On the distribution of the PSI regionally, the minister designate said PSI designate areas were chosen by a combination of geographical location and demand.

Mr. Allan Kyerematen could not recollect where he presented an EDIF annual report for 2003 to parliament but said he believed he presented it to the minister of parliamentary affairs. He however could not offer an explanation to a question on why the annual report on the Free Zones Board had not been presented to parliament for the past three years as required by law.

The Trade and Industry minister designate explained that efforts were being made to improve the trade sector of the economy citing that as part of that agenda, a National Trade Policy (NTP) would soon be launched.

He stressed that after the launch of the national trade policy an industrial census would also be carried out to assess that industrial base of the nation?s economy and to find ways of improving the industrial sub sector.

On the current congestion at the country?s ports despite the introduction of scanners which were aimed at facilitating inspection at the ports and consequently speeding up the clearing procedures at the ports, he explained that the scanners were not totally effective for inspection and as a result required that physical inspections were still carried out hence the continuous congestion at the ports.

He promised to expedite actions to ensure the payment of salary arrears of workers of the Ghana Standard Board (GSB), which were said to be outstanding since February last year.

Touching on the effects of the facing out of the quota system for countries like China to export into the USA, on Ghana under the AGOA, he said Ghana will continue to enjoy the privileges under the AGOA till next year and therefore has the premium to export more textiles into the US market.

He said the value of export for textile to USA through AGOA amounted to about $20 million. The minister designate expects an improvement in Ghana?s gross market to increase to about $70 million.

Asked by a member of the committee about what he is doing about industrialization in the northern regions, he said government would stimulate investment into these areas through economic incentives such as tax incentives.
The Chairman of the committee, Hon. Blay, disallowed a question by a member of the committee, Hon Kumbour as to whether the minister designate had a presidential ambition, which decision prompted interventions from the minority leader and the questioner himself resulting in a debate over the vetting procedures of the committee which had earlier been discussed at a caucus meeting among members of the committee.

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Source: Chronicle

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