NDPC Develops Guidelines to help MMDAs implement AfCFTA

NDPC Develops Guidelines to help MMDAs implement AfCFTA

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) has developed a guideline that would enable Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Assemblies (MMDAs) to fully harness the benefits of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement.

The guidelines would help local authorities put in place the right structures that would enable local businesses to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the free trade agreement to enhance local economic development.

At a breakfast meeting organised by NDPC to discuss the guidelines, a Senior Planning Analyst at NDPC, Mr. Christopher Conduah, said the guidelines would help MMDAs analyze existing trade patterns and infrastructure in order to identify industries in their localities that employ the majority of the local workforce and put into perspective the relative advantages available and how they can be expedited.

According to him, the guidelines would also help MMDAs develop business profiles of their districts, which would provide an opportunity to document the essential information needed for investors with an interest in undertaking manufacturing activities in the district as well as local businesses that were seeking to explore opportunities to export their products to other countries.

"The guidelines would help MMDAs form special economic zones as well as a single factory zone with the help of the Ghana Free Zones Board where companies would enjoy incentives available to free zone companies, including 100% exemption from payment of direct and indirect duties and levies on all imports for production and export and 100% exemption from payment of income tax on profits for 10 years from the date of commencement of operation, and income tax thereafter shall not exceed 8%," he said.

He hinted that although AfCFTA removed all barriers to trade, including tariffs and non-tariff barriers with Africa, there were still border disputes and inadequate infrastructure to facilitate intra-regional trade.

"The guidelines would help MMDAs work with relevant stakeholders, including the Ghana Shippers Authority, Ghana Police Service, and Ghana Revenue Authority, to address these physical barriers so as to provide a sound business operating environment for SMEs within the districts," he said.

He added that the guidelines would also enable the district to ensure good manufacturing practices among local firms; help local businesses gain access to markets, and also put in place structures to track progress on support being provided to enable local businesses to take advantage of the AfCFTA.

On his part, the Director General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) said the guidelines were essential because a medium-term evaluation of the Medium-Term National Development Policy Framework (2018-2021) showed that important national programmes like Planting for Food and Jobs and the AfCFTA were viewed by MMDAs as peripheral.

According to him, the guidelines would provide the momentum needed for important national programmes being implemented by the central government to be grounded in the regular implementation processes of these MMDAs.

"The guidelines would not only help the assemblies mainstream these programmes but would also make their expected outputs a priority for them," he added.

He also said the medium-term evaluation showed that MMDAs put emphasis on implementing isolated single projects very often pertaining to the social sector, which made it difficult for them to gather momentum needed for their local economic development.

He hinted that AfCFTA was the vehicle needed to first help ground programmes being implemented by the central government at the district level and secondly, promote and redirect local governments to promote local economic development.

"We need to turn the local government from a bureaucratic institution to an entrepreneurial institution so that we can harness the opportunity that the free trade area presents," he added.

The guidelines, which are called AfCFTA Guidelines for Local Authorities for Local Authorities in Ghana, were developed through consultative processes with stakeholders, including the Ministry of Trade and Industry (Ghana AfCFTA Coordinating Secretariat), the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, the Ghana Shippers Authority, the Africa Union AfCFTA Secretariat, the Ghana Export Promotion Authority, the Ghana Free Zones Authority, the Ghana Enterprises Agency, the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, UNDP, UNCDF, and UNIDO.

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