Private sector calls for new approach in World Bank funding

Private sector calls for new approach in World Bank funding

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…As Ghana-World Bank partnership hits 60-year mark

By Frederick ASIAMAH

Ghana and the World Bank have been in love for 60 years – since September 1957. During that period of time, 14 military and democratic governments have led Ghana.

More importantly to the World Bank, it has made financial commitments exceeding 10 billion to Ghana’s development across not less than 15 sectors.

This is confirmed by Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Finance Minister as follows: “The Bank has contributed significantly to almost all sectors of our economy through direct budget support; project/programme financing; and technical assistance. To date, we can confirm that Ghana has received approximately US$1.5 billion from the World Bank. As at August 30, there are 26 ongoing World Bank funded projects and programmes valued at US$2.0 billion (credit/grants) of which about 70% has been disbursed.”

That notwithstanding, he agrees that “This point in our journey calls for a sober reflection of what benefits have accrued to our many years of partnership, what has been the challenges, what are the lessons learnt, how we should shape the future of the partnership to make it more beneficial and sustainable.”

Well, private sector players have seized the opportunity to offer some sober reflections. The Private Enterprises Federation – made up of 15 chambers and associations – thinks that Ghana and the World Bank have done a “good job” in the sense that this long term relationship and the growing support to improve the lives and livelihoods of the peoples of Ghana have served as a catalyst for change in the Ghanaian economy.

Yet, PEF is dissatisfied with the manner in which the private sector has been handled by the partnership. Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of PEF says “…we want to see change in the relationship and the approach to doing business in Ghana between the government of Ghana and the World Bank. There should be a new format of engagement between the partners that will be anchored on the domestic private sector.”

Osei-Bonsu evaluates that the absence of resources, inadequate infrastructure, the cost of energy, water and others like health and education products within the Ghanaian economy indict the integrity and efficiency of public sector services, clearly indicating that Ghana has not performed very well.

Besides, the World Bank’s assistance to the private sector, “usually routed through the government of Ghana or respective governments has not done too well for the private sector.”

Therefore, the private sector would prefer to receive funding directly from the World Bank.

Osei-Bonsu says: “As a lead advocate for the private sector, the Federation is wishing and willing to work assiduously with the GOG and the WB to set up a tripod dialogue where the Bank, the government and the private sector will sit together to look at the terrain and see what things and efforts need to be employed to get the private sector to be able to become competitive in the global environment.”

The World Bank support

The first support for Ghana from the World Bank was US$47 million for the Volta Power Project in 1961 to support the construction of the Akosombo Dam.

Subsequently, there have been facilities to support village infrastructure project (VIP), community-based rural development project (CBRDP), Ghana social opportunities project (GSOP), the Accra/Tema Water Supply Project and the Secondary Education Improvement Project.

The World Bank’s funds have largely been disbursed as International Development Association (IDA) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) funds and grants. The IDA is the part of the World Bank that helps the world’s poorest countries and complements the World Bank’s original lending arm—the IBRD.

On Friday, the partners launched the World Bank-Ghana programme at 60 celebrations.

Henry G. Kerali, World Bank Ghana Country Director, indicated that “…we must make sure that there is value for money, and that the value of the development support is carefully safeguarded. We have supported projects in different sectors, which are critical to the overall development agenda. But the most important thing is that citizens all around Ghana – in communities, through media, in political circles – need to monitor and provide feedback on what is being done to help address the development challenges of the country.”

Ghana’s Finance Minister, Ofori-Atta, looking beyond the present, said “…our continued partnership should be leveraged to move Ghana beyond aid. The Bank’s role in providing a guarantee to enable government leverage US$1.7 billion investment from the private sector for the production of oil, the Offshore Cape Three Points Integrated Oil and Gas Project, should be the benchmark for the future.”

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