It is a great pleasure and privilege to welcome you once again to this session of the Chamber’s National Dialogue Series, themed "Navigating the Rapid Depreciation of the Cedi: Surviving in the Midst of the Crisis."

This theme is not only timely but also crucial, given the current economic situation and the worsening state of our local currency.

Before we delve into today's agenda, I would like to extend a warm and heartfelt welcome to our distinguished guest speakers: Dr. Richmond Atuahene, an expert in finance and a banker, and Mr. Michael Bozumbil, CEO of Petrosol Platinum Energy Limited.

We are privileged to have you with us today, and we greatly appreciate your valuable time and participation in our efforts to address the issue of the rapid depreciation of the cedi. Your insights into the underlying causes and effective strategies to counteract its adverse effects on businesses are invaluable.

Ladies and gentlemen, the Chamber National Dialogue Series is a vital initiative of the GNCCI. It serves as an advocacy platform where we engage on issues of national relevance, aiming to make policy recommendations to the government to create a conducive business environment. Through this dialogue, we also provide expert advice to business operators on critical business-related issues.

This particular session is especially significant given the continuous rapid depreciation of the local currency, which seriously threatens business growth and inflation. After stabilizing for just about a year, it is alarming to observe the re-emergence of rapid depreciation.

As of March 2024, the cedi was identified as the third worst-performing currency on the continent, according to Bloomberg's report. In the first quarter of 2024, the cedi experienced an average depreciation of approximately 8.8 percent against major trading currencies. In the initial five months of the year, it had depreciated by 17.7 percent.

This rapid depreciation coincides with an economy that has consistently slowed, with growth averaging 3 percent over the past five quarters, despite participation in the IMF bailout program. The environment for business growth has become increasingly difficult, characterized by high operating costs due to excessive taxes, irregular power supply, and high lending rates. The rapid depreciation of the currency compounds the difficulties facing Ghanaian businesses, thus, necessitating strategic approaches to mitigate risks to their operations.   

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is for this reason that Chamber is convening this edition of its Dialogue Series. This forum aims to facilitate discussions on strategies to mitigate the adverse impact of the rapid depreciation of the cedi on business operations.

The Chamber, therefore, takes this opportunity to urge the government to treat the depreciation of the local currency as an emergency and expedite efforts to stabilize it and clamp down on speculation.

This includes negotiating with external creditors under the IMF program for the disbursement of the third tranche of the credit facility. The Chamber also urges the Bank of Ghana to intensify its efforts to improve market conduct and instill sanity in the market for foreign exchange.  

Individuals who are hoarding the forex are also encouraged to desist and help slow down the rate of depreciation. The Chamber also call on citizens to begin to look within for the consumption of domestically produced goods and services to support the long-term stabilization of the local currency.

To conclude Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I encourage all of us to engage actively, share your experiences, and take full advantage of the expertise available today. As we embark on today’s discussions, let us remember that the strength of our economy lies in the resilience and adaptability of our businesses. By working together, sharing knowledge, and implementing strategic measures, we can navigate this crisis and emerge stronger.

The Chamber assures the business community that it will continue its advocacy and collaboration with the government and other relevant stakeholders to ensure that the interest of the private sector is protected and promoted.

Long live GNCCI! Long live Ghana.

Thank you!

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.