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General News Thu, 21 Jun 2007

IEA organizes workshop for political parties

Accra, June 21, GNA - A free-market economy, based on the freedom to choose the freedom to produce and the freedom to exchange, is necessary for the development of Ghana's private sector. However, in order to fully realize the gains, a market-based economy must be anchored on strong institutions that protected physical and intellectual property rights, according to participants at a two-day workshop organized by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the Centre for International Private enterprise (CIPE) USA. The workshop held at Sogakope in the Volta Region at the weekend was under the theme, "Building Economic Platforms for Political Parties in Ghana."

It brought together about 26 leading members of Ghana's political parties, business organizations and civil society to discuss the state of the country's private sector development as well as build strong constituencies with each party for support for market-based economic reforms.

A statement issued by IEA in Accra on Thursday said a visiting fellow at the Institute, Dr Edward Kutsoati stressed that a necessary condition for achieving quality government was for local government to be fully elected so they could be held to accountable by their respective electorate.

"In fact, not only will this enhance internal checks and balances within the government hierarchy, but it allows for policy experimentation at the district level," said. "Policies that work in the District can then be replicated elsewhere, while the effect of failures will be contained within the District."

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Mr. Cletu Kosiba, Executive Director of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), emphasized the need for government to provide the necessary infrastructure to support Ghanaian businesses. This was also echoed by the Executive Director of the National Board of Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), Nana Dr. Baah Boakye. Citing the energy crisis, credit facilities and unfair international trading rules, among others, both the AGI and the NBSSI urged the government to identify "winners" among the small and large Ghanaian enterprises for the necessary support. Participants acknowledged the power of markets and the role of institutions as growth-enhancing, but disagreed on the role of the government in market economy.

"The free-market thinkers were of the opinion that since government has proven to be inefficient in the delivery of services, this might be the right time to invite the private sector to participate in all markets," the statement said.

"However, other participants believed that in an environment of weak institutions, the government must still play an active role in the provision of certain basic goods. Irrespective of their positions, participants agreed that what matters in the long run is the quality of government's intervention in a free market place," it added. Stressing on the vital role of information in a market economy, Mr. Sontim Tobiga, of the People's National Convention (PNC) proposed that a fund be set aside to support consumer association groups, such as the Consumer Association of Ghana (CAG), to provide accurate and timely information to market participants. "This would not only guard consumers against bad products and fraudulent claims about a product, but also promote innovation and fair competition in a free-market economy." 21 June 07

Source: GNA
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