Chief executive officer of the Chamber of Agribusiness, Anthony Morrison, has commended the move by government to inject some GHC1 billion to implement the Economic Enclaves projects at scale and speed, allocated to Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) to complement the PFJ II.
According to him, this is crucial to the growth of the agric sector. Nonetheless, he stated that to have an economic enclave program requires some huge governmental commitment.
Mr Morrison indicated that the national importation bill is worth over $10 billion, and it is something he expects government to be more deliberate and strategic with investment in food.
“This is a welcoming news to some extent, having an economic enclave program… If you look at the budget allocation for the agriculture sector, that is about $53 million. If you look at the amount of money that the government is actually allocating from the World Bank Fund for the disaster which is about $40 million, that should also tell you that in reality…”Anthony Morrison
Furthermore, Mr Morrison noted that government’s annual budgetary allocation towards the agriculture sector shouldn’t be anything less than $1 billion.
He highlighted that it is the only way that in the next 10 to 15 years, Ghana can work towards attaining its food security status – a country that is more robust with its food systems.
Additionally, he expressed that government must work to look at the food price buildup, where there are lapses, interventions should be instituted, and government must also critically consider increasing the employment scale and equally reduce the importation within the industry.
In spite of the allocations made, Mr Morrison urged the government to be thorough in its churning of data.
He indicated that if data is not verified, there’ll be different challenges with government’s own policies and how it works towards attaining the target it has set.
“So, there’s quite a number of things to be done, particularly looking through the data as the minister shared yesterday, we were a bit alarmed by the fact that we saw some data being projected for 2021 to 2023 we felt that for instance, there was a projection of 6.3% sector growth, we felt that it should be between 2017 to 2022 and not 2021 because it should be year on year performance.
“PFJ may have attributed partially towards that performance especially in the horticulture sector. So, we want to look at data consistency, in that, this kind of data, especially budget of this nature then informs private sector investment into the agriculture sector. So, this data must be verified and validated…”Anthony Morrison
Tax exemptions in the agric ministry
Meanwhile, the CEO of Chamber for Agribusiness lauded the tax exemptions by the government in the agric sector. He however emphasized the need to also deepen the exemptions with the “fact that the resource of 5% extra tax on the profit, we need to look at removing that”.
“Look, the first and foremost responsibility of every government is to feed its own people, so if the government cannot make the requisite and adequate financial commitment to feeding its own people and the private sector that is struggling to invest in agriculture and government continues to tax them, I think that it’s the most wicked thing to be done. This for me, shouldn’t even have happened in the first place.”Anthony Morrison
Moreover, Mr Morrison revealed that government must also make provisions in enticing the private sector, by giving them some tax exemptions and tax benefits to venture into agriculture.
“So, we need to deliberate, protect the industry, shield the industry against foreign competition, shield the industry against unnecessary importation and it’s important. We can’t do without food.”Anthony Morrison