Mr Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to associate myself with the Motion ably moved by the Hon Deputy Minister for Finance and supported by the Hon Chairman of the Finance Committee, for the Ghana Export-Import Bank Bill, 2015, to be read a Second time.
Mr Speaker, in doing so, I would want to commend the Ministry of Finance for this bold initiative.
Indeed, Mr Speaker, the policy challenge of the Ghanaian private sector, otherwise described as the economic headway, is access to credit and the cost of credit.
Mr Speaker, if we get this Ghana Export- Import (Exim) Bank Bill passed, it would support private export finance. Mr Speaker, my added recommendation is for this Export-Import Bank not to lose sight of the Small, Medium Enterprises (SMEs) of our country.
The SMEs contribute about 80 per cent to our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and contribute about 90 per cent to employment in our country. And it is important that they play their role.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Deputy Minister in moving the Motion also emphasised expanded export. You would recall when His Excellency, President Mahama appeared before this House two years ago, he launched his Transformation Agenda, anchored on reducing the import bill of our country.
Mr Speaker, even as we discuss the depreciation of the cedi, my view is that, on a long term sustainable basis, the cure to it is expanded exports and not monetary policy and sometimes, fiscal adjustments. It is for us to expand and increase our exports. And as an agrarian economy, we do have an opportunity to do so.
Mr Speaker, may I refer you to the memorandum accompanying this Bill and in particular, to clause 4. I am talking about page two and I would want to raise an issue with it.
“Provision is made under clause 4 for the independence of the Bank. In the performance of its functions the Bank is not subject to the regulatory and supervisory control of the Bank of Ghana or the Banking Act, 2004, (Act 673)”.
This august House would have to take a second look at this particular provision. Mr Speaker, by this, we are ousting the mandate, the regulatory and oversight function of the Bank of Ghana.
Yet, we can learn from best practice. There is Exim Bank in China, there is Exim Bank in India, and there is Exim Bank in the United States of America. Therefore, how can you say that this particular financial institution shall not be subject to the regulatory and the supervisory control of the Bank of Ghana? I do have some difficulties with that particular provision in respect of clause 4.
Mr Speaker, also, in this Bill, we will note that, we are transforming Export Development and Agricultural Investment Fund (EDAIF) into the Export-Import. It is also important that the small businesses that were supported by EDAIF do not suffer under the umbrella of this.
Mr Speaker, I dare add that, even the Ghana Export Promotion Authority legislation would have to be revised by this august House. This is because there is a provision in this Act for us to share the dutiable levies that are imposed to get this Fund established, so that the Ghana Export Promotion Authority will be able to play a prime role with increased resources in order to be able to support that.
Mr Speaker, everywhere in the world, the ministry for the economy is the Ministry of Trade and Industry. When I said ministry for the economy, I am sure my Hon Colleague Prof Gyan-Baffour will appreciate it.
Everywhere in the world, the ministry for the economy -- how you build industry is the Ministry of Trade and Industry. How you control exports.
We know the policy direction of this Government and it is important that, not just export financing, it will also create employment.
Mr Speaker, I would recommend strongly that maybe, when we come to the Consideration Stage, the Board of this Bank should probably be chaired by the Hon Minister for Trade and Industry. This is in order that there would still be a functional relationship in how we control the economy in terms of exports and imports.
I think this is one of the major far reaching legislations which would be the legacy of the Mahama Administration in trying to reach out strongly to the private sector of Ghana, with dedicated resourced envelope to support it.
Mr Speaker, everywhere in the world, the primary role of the public sector, would be to create a congenial and enabling environment. Those that would create the jobs are the private sector and I am sure that the Ghana ExportImport (EXIM) Bank would do same.
If we go further into the legislation, we would know, as I said, that they must necessarily report. And you might want to look at imposition of the Import Levy which would be shared.