Businesses have ranked corruption and low transparency as a major threat to their survival and sustenance in the country.
Investors have also raised concerns about the safety of their investments, with some urging the government to assure them of the safety and security of their assets.
A survey by accounting and auditing firm, PwC, for the United Kingdom Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC), found that businesses wanted the incidence of corruption, low transparency and declining safety and security of investments addressed to boost their confidence and attract more investments into the economy.
A report on the survey, dubbed: “Ghana 2021 Business Environment and Competitiveness Survey”, was released yesterday, May 11.
It indicated that the position of the businesses on corruption and transparency gave a sense of how dire the situation was for businesses operating in the country.
It said more than 45 businesses participated in the annual survey.
The country was ranked 73 out of 180 countries on the Corruption Perception Index released last year.
Its score fell to 43, below the expected average of 50.
“Low corruption and transparency is the major change required from the government – having precedence over the safety and security of investments,” the report said.
It noted that although Ghana was the most attractive West African country for trade and investment, one challenge that marred all the positive contributions made to the UKGCC was corruption in the government system.
“Respondents noted that low corruption was one of the factors considered when making business expansion decisions as well. It is thus imperative for the government to eradicate corruption from its system and improve transparency,” the report added.
Safety of investments
The report said businesses would also like the government to assure them of safety and security of investment.
“Much like the banking sector clean up, which was done to make the financial services industry more robust and to assure the security of depositors’ funds, the government must ensure investors' funds are also safe and secure,” it said.
On regulations, the report said businesses would like the government to revise the legal requirements for starting and undertaking business to make it more flexible and business-friendly.
Meanwhile, a press release from the UKGCC on the survey said it identified some components of the business environment that had seen improvements in their ranking since UKGCC began tracking them 2019.
“The top five of these components are the availability of advanced technology, which improved by 67 per cent; availability of telecom facilities, which improved by 61 per cent; availability of power supply and availability of universities and training facilities, both of which improved by 57 per cent; and sophistication in firm management and strategies, which saw a 53 per cent improvement.
“Respondents expressed some positive sentiments about doing business in Ghana, citing the country’s regulatory framework, availability of water, availability of power, the effectiveness of the legal system and availability of telecom facilities as the top five indicators,” the statement said.
It said in spite of these considerable improvements and positive sentiments in the business environment in the past year, the survey findings revealed several constraints to business growth and potential remained.
It said 47 companies' respondents from among UKGCC’s member companies participated.
Of that number, it said 80 per cent of businesses perceived cost of capital as the highest impediment to business growth.
“This was followed by corruption, access to capital, cost of land and government bureaucracy at 68 per cent, 66 per cent, 65 per cent and 60 per cent respectively.
“The survey also indicated that businesses are generally unprepared for the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) as an opportunity, while 82 per cent of them prioritised ‘expanding digital competencies’ as a top focus for doing business in the new normal,” it said.