The Finance Minister of Ghana, Ken Ofori-Atta, has opined that the only way to get a stable cedi and ensure a predictable standard of living for citizens is to address the skewed imbalance between imports and exports that exists in Ghana.
According to him, only after reducing the high level of imports the country engages in, becoming self-sufficient and then exporting more than we import, would our local economy become a sustainable one.
The Finance Minister made this call during a meeting with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI).
Ghana is heavily reliant on importing goods, including produce that could be grown/reared in Ghana such as tomatoes, rice, fish and chicken.
In other areas, Ghana generally exports raw materials, which are invariably less valuable than the finished product the country then imports.
This heavy reliance on exporting raw goods and importing finished products has destabilised the local economy, with the high demand for dollars for importation tanking the value of the cedi, which consequently dramatically increases the cost of doing business for importers, who then pass on the increased cost to consumers.
According to the Finance Minister, the status quo is unsustainable.
Ofori-Atta said the government plans to work with the relevant authorities, “especially with you, concerning the issue of eliminating imports of products that we can produce right here in Ghana”.
“Self-sufficiency and export of items such as rice, poultry, vegetable oil to fix pasture, fruit-juice, bottled water and ceramics is at this moment an urgent priority, and government is prepared to support our local industry players with this effort.
“Only when we achieve this feat can we guarantee a stable currency and secure a high level of predictability for citizens and the business community,” he stated.
Between 2017 and 2020, the country is reported to have spent as much as GH¢6.9billion on the importation of rice. Within the same period, the country has also imported some GH¢4billion of fish and another GH¢1.9billion of chicken and some GH¢487million of meat.
“I don’t know how we can continue to do this. You know, in effect, the poor cocoa farmer weeds and produces cocoa and we get some US$2billion from them – and then we use it to import these things and insist that we need benchmark value reduction. So, this is where we are. We must ask ourselves where our sovereignty lies,” the minister said.