The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has urged Municipal and District Chief Executives to empower youth and encourage them to embrace private sector entrepreneurship initiatives to be able to set their own businesses. According to him municipal and district assemblies have a constitutional mandate of promoting local economic development in their respective areas and must therefore ensure entrepreneurs, both existing and potential ones, have access to relevant support services to grow their businesses. Dr. Spio-Garbrah was speaking at a workshop in Sunyani, in the Brong Ahafo Region, for 161 Municipal/District Chief Executives, Coordinating Directors and Finance Officers, on Rural Enterprise Programme.
He singled out the need to enhance access of businesses to rural finance schemes and advanced technology as two of the critical business needs that Assemblies must promote to enable growth of local industries, which in turn will generate employment opportunities.
The Minister charged Municipal and District Chief Executives to make determined efforts to encourage specifically the youth to engage in agribusinesses, as an alternative to solving the high graduate unemployment situations in the country. He explained that the Rural Enterprises Programme is one of the several government interventions which create opportunities for young people to engage in productive businesses and stimulate economic growth.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah noted that government has made huge investments in REP and charged the Assemblies to ensure that the full potentials of the programme to generate employment and improve the livelihoods of the rural poor micro andsmall-scale entrepreneurs are fully tapped.
He said Municipal and District Chief executives should liaise with traditional leaders to provide land to youth in the districts for cultivation and start-up businesses. The Minister assured district assemblies of the commitment of his Ministry to help in facilitating the growth of businesses in the districts and create more jobs for the people.
Dr. Spio Garbrah advised unemployed youth particularly graduates to register businesses and seeksupport to develop project proposals to be able to qualify for the many social intervention schemes available. The Minister expressed regrets that while many lives are being changed through the Rural Enterprises Programme, graduates continue to be unconscious of the rich potentials of engaging into private enterprises. He mentioned some of the enterprises that the youth could engage in through REP as oil palm extracting, cassava processing, poultry, snail, and beekeeping etc.
The National Director of the Rural Enterprises Programme, Mr Kwasi Attah-Antwi, advised district assemblies to refocus on creating opportunities for their people to create wealth as mandated by the 1992 constitution. He mentioned that it is only when businesses in the districts have high turnovers that they will pay more taxes and levies to shore up the Assemblies’ revenues. He asked the Assemblies to supervise and work with their BACs and RTFs to ensure that the goal and objectiveof the Programme is attained.
Also in attendance was the Deputy Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, Mr. Justice Samuel Adjei. He charged the youth not to migrate to the cities and big towns in search of non-existing jobs but take advantage of interventions such as REPto better their lives.