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General News
Veep lobbies IFC to support SMEs 2/1/2007
Accra, Jan. 31, GNA - Mr Lars H. Thunell, Executive Vice President of the International Finance Corporation, (IFC), on Wednesday met with Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, in Accra, to brainstorm on how to streamline the IFC''s operations in Ghana.

The meeting, which was attended by Finance Minister, Mr Kwadwo Baah Wiredu and Minister of Trade and PSI, Mr Alan Kyeremanteng, focused on areas of cooperation in the energy and education sectors as well as access to credit by the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).

The IFC, which is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, has expressed commitment to expansion works at the Takoradi Thermal Power Plant, Ghana''s Private School Support Programme and support for SMEs.

Vice President Mahama lauded IFC for giving assurance to support Ghana''s energy sector, disclosing that government was trying to end disagreements with CMS Energy, the 90 shareholders of the Thermal Plant over figures to facilitate the progress of the project.

He also expressed happiness that the international financial body was assisting the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to provide more housing units for workers.

Vice President Mahama appealed to the IFC authorities to help expand the capacity of local contractors, many of who lacked equipment to operate.

The IFC he said should provide direct support to entrepreneurs engaged in stone quarrying to help expand their production levels and queried the inflexible nature of the commercial banks to provide support for the SMEs to grow.

Mr Thunell suggested the need for Ghanaian banks to update their operations to improve assess to credit.

He praised Ghana for championing the decentralisation of decision-making involving the SMEs, which he said was crucial to their growth. IFC is currently supporting 144,000 SMEs in Africa. "IFC will like to work on the long and short term support of the energy sector," Mr Thunell assured.

Mr Kyeremanteng said stabilisation and growth of SMEs, which constitute about 96 per cent of business in Ghana, was dear to the government and solicited IFC support especially the flow of credit.

He expressed the need for innovative means of supporting the SMEs such as the establishment of special banks to deal with stakeholders. Mr Baah Wiredu appealed for IFC support for private tertiary institutions to boost the country''s human resource drive. Mr Thunell, who is leading a four-member team to West Africa, would visit Liberia on Friday, February 1, 2007. He has already visited Nigeria.Source:

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