Finance Minister, Hon. Ken Ofori-Atta reiterated the 2018 budget, and explained some key components at the American Chamber of Commerce’s Thanksgiving dinner and charity ball held at the banquet hall of the state house in Accra, on 17th November, 2017 by the in Ghana.
The minister was the guest speaker at the event and he touched on the ‘One district, One factory’ policy of the new government. He said the government looks forward in partnering with organizations like AmCham and its Members in implementing this policy.
Hon. Ofori-Atta also stated some measures instituted by the new administration to stabilize the economy to create a business friendly environment. Some of these measures he said included the abolishment of 17.5 percent VAT/NHIL on Financial Services, Excise duty on Petroleum and the replacement of 17.5 percent standard rate with a 3 percent flat VAT/NHIL rate for supplies by retailers and wholesalers.
“To ensure irreversibility of the stability we have achieved, we are implementing structural measures to tackle some of the long-term structural issues.” The minister added.
Prior to the minister’s speech, Ambassador Robert P. Jackson gave a much light toned speech. He started with a brief history on Thanksgiving. “I am sure most of us are familiar with the story we associate with the first Thanksgiving: back in the year 1621, the pilgrim settlers to America gathered with the Native Americans at Plymouth Plantation to celebrate their bountiful harvest.”
The Ambassador went on to share some fact about Thanksgiving. He began with the fact that even though Thanksgiving started in 1621, it didn’t become an annual, national holiday until the 1860s. He also expressed Americans love for turkey and said their first diplomat, Benjamin Franklin, liked turkey even more than most Americans.
Ambassador Jackson’s speech wasn’t all about turkey; he talked about Thanksgiving also doubling as a period of reflection. “Tonight is a time of fellowship with each other, but it is also time to consider how we can give back to the community and make a positive difference in the lives of Ghanaian citizens.” He added.
He said he admire the work of American companies are doing in Ghana, and that their innovative, high quality goods and services that they provide are highly valued by the Ghanaian market. The Ambassador went on to say “it is interesting how, over time, American companies have evolved their philosophy about what it means to be a “good” business. It is much more than just an entity that makes profit.”
“I am proud to represent the United States and U.S. companies here in Ghana as your ambassador.” He added.
The events also doubled as the 20th anniversary since the Chamber was officially launched, and the first president of the Chamber was present. Before presenting awards to some staff that have been with the Chamber since its insertion, he told a story of the launching of Chamber, an event which had the then President FLt Jerry John Rawlings as a special guest.
The current president of the chamber, Mr. Joe Mansah also shared a story on how the embassy helped him setup IBM in Ghana, and encouraged American business who a yet to join Chamber to do so. “Come be part of our organization and let’s drive the agenda together.” Mr. Mensah urged.
Some outstanding Menders were also awarded with certificates of appreciation for the various roles they have played in advancing the agendas of the Chamber. The president and the Ambassador honorably presented these awards to Ayesha Bedwei from PwC, Edward William Wiafe of Landsar Developer and Nii Amanor Dodoo of KPMG. Kimathi Partners were also presented a plaque of appreciation for being the headline sponsor of the Thanksgiving event.
It was a night of glitz, good music, good food, champagne and wine, but the less fortunate was not left out. There was an art auctioning and Delta Airlines ticket sales with proceeds going to support a local charity. This year’s Thanksgiving event can be described as a success and the Chamber hopes to repeat it, and of course upon it with the help of its Members.
From the president, Mr. Joe Mensah, “The future is bright, we just have to do things right.”