Stakeholders at a forum on the role of the public sector in facilitating business said the sector has so far failed to respond and support the growth of the private sector.
They said the public sector institutions which must facilitate had rather become a bane on the private sector through inefficiency and bureaucracy, which is choking the system.
“Bureaucracy is good for discipline. But people have used bureaucracy now as a vehicle to exploit, to extort, to corrupt and to defraud,” said John Awuni, Corporate Affairs Director, Finatrade.
“The public sector is divorced and alienated from the private sector, and the private sector is literally at the beck and call of the public sector,” he said.
Dr Kwesi Nduom, an International Management Consultant, said the private sector needs the state to be the arbiter, to be the one who brings the rules and regulations and to ensure equal opportunity to all entrepreneurs to succeed.
He said there is the need for the sector to provide motivation and to apply innovation through technology so that work could be done faster.
“It is when it’s slow, when we’re using manual typewriters in this day and age, it is when a human being has to go across the road to go and look for a physical file – that’s what provides the opportunity for those who want to do the wrong thing. Those are the things we must look for,” he said.
Mr Martin Mensah, Managing Director of Kasapreko Company, said while there are some successful and proactive public agencies almost every other agency is a hindrance.
“To be honest, there are some successfully aggressive and proactive agencies. Almost everybody else – and it’s a sad thing to say – We see them as putting impediments in our way and we have to work around them all the time.
“Typically what I’m finding more and more every day is that business people are learning to cope without government. Therefore we miss the benefit that we could derive from having government as a stakeholder who sees itself as a partner, as opposed to only a regulator – and that’s a fine distinction,”
Mr Mensah said: “Let’s not kid ourselves - there is graft in the system. It’s a huge problem. It’s so bad that it’s taken as normal.
“It’s something that very few people want to talk about. Let’s be honest. It’s a reality of our system. We try and brush it under the carpet because by talking about it, one may suggest that one does it,” he added.
Mr Mensah said while there is corruption in every system in the world, the problem is when it becomes a part of the cost of doing business, adding that It is a significant cost that do appear in the books.
Toks Abimbola, a Nigerian businessman, who started a company in Ghana three years ago, said the business climate in Ghana do not allow for things to be done fast.
“From my perspective as an entrepreneur building a business in Ghana, I’d like to have things done yesterday. But the climate we operate in doesn't allow that,” he said.
He cited the clearance of goods at the port as a major hindrance and wished things could move a little bit faster to meet the needs of businesses.
There is also the issue of corruption, which must be tackled in the public service.
Alhassan Azong, Minister of State in charge of Public Sector Reform, said Public service delivery is an issue of continuity and that the impact would only show with time.
“It’s very important to restore confidence to the civil service. It can be done by putting in a little more effort into capacity building, training and boosting the morale,” said Effie Simpson Ekuban– Chief Programme Co-ordinator, Public Sector Reform Secretariat.
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