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General News
Modernise Agriculture For Growth - Prof. Aryeetey 1/5/2007
A renowned Ghanaian economist, Prof. Ernest Aryeetey, has made it clear that the country’s development objectives will remain an illusion unless a firm decision is taken to modernise its system of agriculture.

He said the country’s target of moving from a six per cent growth rate to nine per cent could only be achieved through modernised agriculture which was capable of attracting foreign markets and feeding local industries.

Towards achieving accelerated growth, Professor Aryeetey recommended models from Malaysia and Mauritius, which he said took firm decisions by pursuing import substitution policies to attract the Asian markets.

The Economics Professor and Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Legon, was delivering a lecture on Wednesday at the 58th Annual New Year School at the University of Ghana.

It was on the topic; “The state of The National Economy, 50 Years After Independence: What Next?” He stressed the need for the nation to take a firm decision on where it wanted to be in the future in terms of development.

Prof. Aryeetey said the development challenges facing the country were because “we haven’t quite decided on what to do as a nation”, adding that although the nation had done quite a lot towards development in the past 50 years, its efforts were not enough.

He underlined the need for public-private partnerships and proper management in agriculture, and stated that it was important for the country to consider what it could produce more cheaply and competitively.

Prof. Aryeetey said much as the state had a role to play, it must not usurp the market but rather work closely and in partnership with the private sector.

He traced the development history of the country to 1960 and contended that policy reforms over the period had not been enough for the desired economic growth.

According to him, there had been long periods of policy and institutional failures until the introduction of the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) which, although it was not enough, helped to stabilise the economy.

He, however, added, “We did not take advantage of the opportunity for growth.”

Prof Aryeetey observed that there had not been any change in the structure of the economy, which was largely dependent on agriculture, against the expectation of more activity in the manufacturing sector.

He said in spite of the unproductive policies, there was no change in policy direction to stimulate economic growth as Malaysia, Mauritius and other countries did.

Prof Aryeetey said the nation could not grow faster with the kind of skills available within the public and private sectors and stressed the need for the overhauling of the entire apprenticeship system to produce the requisite skills for economic growth.

Responding to a question from one of the participants on the re-denomination of the cedi, he said the decision taken by the Bank of Ghana was commendable, since it would make business transactions easier.

The Chairman of the University of Ghana Council, Mr Tony Oteng-Gyasi, deplored the negative attitude of Ghanaians to time and work, saying it was a big disincentive to productivity and economic growth.

He cited an unnamed company in Tema which was supposed to supply goods abroad on December 31, 2006 but could not do so because a majority of its workers did not go to work between December 27 and 31, 2006 which were not public holidays.

Mr Oteng-Gyasi said because the company was unable to meet the December 31, 2006 deadline, it had to make alternative arrangements to airlift the goods at a latter date, explaining that the cost involved was equivalent to about three months’ profit it would have made.

He wondered how industries could survive with such work ethics.

Story by Kofi Yeboah

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