AGI to present SME Charter to President Mills

The Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) will early next week present a Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Charter, detailing policy proposals to President John Evans Atta Mills. The President is expected to take action on the document, prepared by the AGI through gathering of inputs from business leaders in all the regions of the country, towards the creation of a favourable business environment. Mr Tony Oteng-Gyasi, President of the AGI, who announced these in Accra on Thursday, explained that the charter outlines roles and responsibilities of government agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and development partners towards the transformation of SMEs. He was speaking at an international experts' forum organised on the theme: "Towards a more conducive business environment for SMEs in Ghana: The SME Charter", for business executives and policy makers, to finalise the draft charter. Mr Oteng-Gyasi said the adoption of such document would assist the SMEs sector, which is the backbone of the country's economy, to stimulate growth and create employment for the youth. He said the preparation of the draft was long overdue and urged the participants to expedite action on the document so that it could be presented to President Mills early. "We should in the next 72 hours present the charter to the President of Ghana", Mr Oteng-Gyasi said. He said that even though SMEs remained the driving force of the country's economy, they had not received the needed attention, a situation, which according to him had brought many constraints to the sector. Mr. Oteng-Gyasi said that despite the existence of many SMEs in the country, only a few of them were thriving, and expressed hope that government would give the Charter utmost attention and implement its recommendations to ensure a better business environment in the country. Professor Christian Hauser of the University of Chur, Switzerland, who made a presentation on the experiences of the SMEs in the European Union countries, called for strict adherence to laws to improve the sector in Ghana. Mr Ibrahim Diouf, Director of SMEs sector in Senegal, also presented that country's experiences at the forum to guide the AGI in formulating the charter. President Mills, then Presidential Candidate for Election 2008, signed an agreement with the AGI late last year to work with the Association to implement its proposals contained in the AGI SMEs Agenda if elected as President of Ghana.