The British High Commissioner in Ghana, Dr Nicholas Westcott, has said that the practice where incumbent governments disregard agreements signed with foreign investors by previous administrations can scare investors from coming into the country.
Dr Westcott said this in Accra last week at a public lecture organised by the Public Affairs Directorate of the University of Ghana. It was on the theme, "Governments, Growth and Migration: Britain and Ghana Compared." “It not just telling foreign investors they are welcome,” the High Commissioner said adding that “we have to prove it, demonstrate a consistent policy and an open economy. “These days, there is intense competition for investment throughout the world. The same applies to Ghana as to the UK.
Consistency, not just over four years but over ten or twenty years, will be vital for the foreign investors, and contracts, once signed, should be respected,” he added. Dr Westcott called for a coherent and consistent long-term economic policy to guide the country’s development agenda.
The High Commissioner also urged the government to consider the public sector reform seriously to ensure that the tax payers had good value for money, stressing that Ghana had not only what was one of the proportionately largest public sectors in Africa, but one of the largest public deficits.
Dr Westcott argued that trade liberalization underpinned the growth of Britain and the other emerging economies under state ownership, saying that British car manufacturing had for instance, plunged into the doldrums until it was privatized into foreign hands, adding that “under foreign ownership, the UK still makes cars and sells them at profit.”
Ghana, he said could also follow suit to develop her economy. “Privatisation enhances competition,” he added. Touching on the new oil find, he urged the government to look for the right investors to invest in the industry.
He said when Britain struck oil in the 1960s; it lacked the domestic capacity to develop the oil resources but relied on foreign investors, saying the “risk was borne by others, the revenue still came to us”. Dr Westcott said Ghana could follow the example of Britain to develop her oil resources.
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