The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has advised the youth to take advantage of the agribusiness opportunities and manufacturing and link up with these employment-generating institutions for assistance in order to make a living for themselves and their peers.
“Let us begin to understand that it is possible for us to be employers. This is a primary environment, and we have to challenge ourselves and use our skills to create jobs for ourselves and others, since the government cannot continue to employ people into the public sector”.
Mr Ofori-Atta was speaking at a youth forum organised in Sunyani last Monday.
The forum was the middle belt version of the Springboard Youth Series organised by the Springboard Road Show Foundation to engage the youth on how they could think outside the box to create employment for themselves and others.
The programme, which was also aimed at connecting young people to business promotion agencies that provide technical and financial support for new businesses, was held on the theme: “Repositioning: Bouncing back from COVID-19 and finding opportunities”.
About 500 youth, mainly from the Catholic University College, Fiapre, the Sunyani Technical University (STU) and the University for Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) took part in the forum.
Believing in ourselves; It is possible
Mr. Ofori-Atta, who recounted his childhood experience from his hometown, Kyebi in the Eastern Region through his secondary school, university and life in the United States of America before returning to Ghana to start a business venture, encouraged Ghanaian youth to believe in themselves.
“I am here to challenge you to have faith in your country”, he said, explaining that the academic results of tertiary students indicate that they had tools in their hands, even though there was a challenge as to how they could use such tools to develop themselves and not bury them.
Mr Ofori-Atta said Ghana had a situation where 70 per cent of its total population was under 35 years compared to the global average of 27 percent explaining that at least 109,000 students come out of the tertiary institutions each year.
“On average, about 20 million youth come out to the job market every year of which 83 per cent do not have jobs and that is really the challenge for Africa, including Ghana which we have to address”, he said.
Mr. Ofori-Atta said the establishment of institutions such as the Ghana Cares Programme, the National Entrepreneurship and Innovation Programme (NEIP) and the Ghana Enterprise Agency, formerly known as the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI), is meant to facilitate and nurture entrepreneurial talents of beginners.
Why pay tax
Answering a question on why Ghanaians should pay tax in spite of the hardship being encountered by individuals and businesses as a result of the pandemic, Mr. Ofori-Atta said, “Ghanaians need to understand that they should pay taxes to assist in the building of the country.
He explained that Ghana had a tax to gross domestic product (GDP) ratio of “like 13 and 14 per cent” as compared to the tax to GDP ratio of 20 per cent by its peers in the West African sub-region.”
Mr. Ofori-Atta bemoaned the lack of data to ensure efficient tax collection and expressed the hope that in a year or two, the National Identification system would make the relevant data available for all eligible taxpayers to honour their obligation.
“When you go abroad, you are very happy to pay all of their taxes but when you come here, you say, well you know, everything should be free”, he said, and explained that there was the need for introspection for Ghanaians to see how they could contribute to the realisation of the Ghana Beyond Aid Agenda”.
For her part, the Bono Regional Minister, Miss Justina Owusu-Banahene, commended organisers of the Springboard Road Show for using the platform to provide mentorship to the youth to harness their potential.
She urged the youth to explore the numerous opportunities in the country to take the first step in their pursuit to find employment for themselves since there were institutions in place to help them to develop their potential.
An Executive Coach and Co-Founder of the Springboard Road Show, Reverend Albert Ocran, who dilated on “The power of one moment” urged the youth to be innovative since “little ideas in your mind can be a game-changer in your life”.
“You should have clear intentions and stretch your imaginations to venture into something new that would be accepted by the society,” he advised.