Head of DFID Ghana Jim McAlpine's speech at the Better Regulatory Forum in Accra
Speaking notes of speech by Jim McAlpine's, head of DFID Ghana, at the Better Regulatory Forum in Accra.
Good morning. Delighted to be here this morning, and to welcome you all to this event, the Better Regulatory Forum. I will like to start by thanking the Chair [Mr. Tony Oteng-Gyasi] for his opening remarks. And I’d also like to thank the Programme Coordinator of BEEP – the Business Enabling Environment Programme funded by UK Aid - Mr. Isaac Kodwo Hagan, and his team for their huge effort in organising the Forum.
But I mainly want to thank you the participants in the Forum, many of whom are working with BEEP in the Better Regulatory Reform Committee and the working committees, giving up your time and sharing your expertise to strengthen dialogue between government and the private sector and to enact effective reform.
The Better Regulatory Forum has two clear objectives: i.To highlight the importance of good institutional and regulatory governance in improving the business climate; ii.To highlight how the quality of relations between the state and the business sector could help decision-making and minimize unintended consequences.
To achieve these objectives, the Forum will hear about the experiences of other countries in driving business environment reform, from those directly involved in delivering the reforms. So I want to offer special thanks to our distinguished visitors from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda and the United States for travelling to be with us, and for giving up their time to come and talk to us about the experience of reform in their countries - the lessons learned, their top tips for successful reform as well as things to avoid.
The Forum will also examine the options and tools for reform, and we are going to hear later this afternoon about the Regulatory Guillotine Approach and the Regulatory Impact Assessment. I am particularly pleased that Scott Jacobs has come all the way from the US to share his experience of pioneering these tools in over 50 countries around the world.
The UK Department of International Development has historically supported enabling environment reforms in countries we work in – because we believe that sound investment climate is a necessary condition for private sector growth, and because we believe that, in any country, the private sector is the engine that drives economic growth and creates jobs.
In Ghana we provided funding for reforms under the first national Private Sector Development Strategy (PSDS1), and despite our shared disappointment that the PSDS did not work as the coordinating mechanism we had all hoped for, the UK has remained committed to the business sector reform agenda since then.
But despite some progress, the efforts made by businesses are still being undermined by institutional capacity issues and a lack of clarity about how the various oversight and support mechanisms engage with particular industries and sectors.So whilst relatively positively ranked in some international indexes, some elements of Ghana’s Doing Business ranking have stagnated or started to fall. For example, Ghana’s Doing Business ranking for starting a business has fallen from 97 in the world to 102.
Let me be clear, though, that there is no “one size fits all” model for reform, and no panacea that will deliver it. Ghana has to take into account its own unique characteristics, and apply those to the models and the other country case studies if a path to reform that is right for Ghana is to be found and implemented.
I think it is important, then, to recognize that when we hear about reform in other places, that – to varying degrees - these countries still face enormous challenges themselves in the reform process. But they also have useful lessons to share. Ghana’s Doing Business Ranking in 2016 is 114, Rwanda’s ranking is 62, Uganda’s 122, Ethiopia’s 146 and Bangladesh’s 174.
So, Ghana is not an outlier - but surely, with so much going for it, in terms of natural resources, minerals and perhaps most importantly the entrepreneurial spirit of Ghanaians - Ghana can do much, much better. All of you, as Forum participants, will have ideas and experiences to share, questions to ask and challenges to debate during the sessions over the next two days. I know that you will play your part with enthusiasm and with an eye on the big prize – a Ghana that offers a more conducive environment in which the private sector can invest, grow and flourish.
We are looking for the outcome of your deliberations to be specific actions to take forward, and commitments to get on with the business of reform.
For the UK, I can make this commitment to you: we will support BEEP’s work with key stakeholders including the Commercial Courts of the Judicial Service; Ghana Revenue Authority; and Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and related regulatory agencies. We will do that to
- Deliver targeted reform
- to enable the private sector to influence reforms through independent analysis and research
- and to strengthen dialogue mechanisms between government and the private sector
You will hear this morning from the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, and I should note that we are honoured that Mrs. Mawuena Trebarh, GIPC’s distinguished CEO, is serving as a Councillor to the Better Regulatory Reform Committee.
The Committee is the flagship forum for public-private dialogue, established under BEEP, and is made up of distinguished Councillors from the private sector, research institutions and Government, all of whom have a critical role to play in reforming the environment in which businesses operate.
I am grateful for the Committee’s guidance and wisdom, and delighted to see the real reforms that BEEP is facilitating, through working committees looking at
- commercial justice and contract enforcement
- improved tax payer services (particularly for SMEs)
- local level business licensing fees, operating permits and building/construction permits, and
- a Private Sector Policy Facility (PSPF) for Public-Private Dialogue
I’m also pleased to tell you that through this Private Sector Policy Facility, BEEP is funding our friends at the World Bank to lead some of this work, and tomorrow morning we will hear more from the World Bank about this.
So, to conclude - I hope that over the next 2 days this Forum will provide an opportunity to reflect on how the tools and options for reform can
- Deliver across different economic sectors
- work within the framework of a new private sector plan for Ghana
- And support the long term planning frameworks being finalized by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC)
Thank you, and I wish you productive and fruitful discussions…