Vehicle-financing scheme must be game-changer

The government on Thursday announced plans to introduce a vehicle-financing scheme to support Ghanaians to purchase brand new made-in-Ghana vehicles.

The scheme, according to the government, is to reduce the importation of vehicles and associated use of foreign exchange, which currently runs into about US$1.5 billion annually.

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced the government’s plan while inaugurating a vehicle-assembling plant inTema in the Greater Accra Region.

The plant will produce Nissan cars and President Akufo-Addo said very soon, Hyundai, Kia and Isuzu would join Toyota and Volkswagen to assemble vehicles in Ghana.

Toyota and Volkswagen have already started working in the country and Nissan is going to follow suit.

The President said the global car manufacturers found Ghana an attractive destination to invest here due to the government’s automotive policy which seeks to offer incentives to the vehicle brands.

Definitely, such global companies and world-acclaimed brands would not operate anywhere they know they would eventually encounter problems.

Already, all these brands have trading or retail outlets in the country, which means they know the Ghanaian automotive terrain in terms of preferred specs, the purchasing power and calibre of customers.

Coming to assemble vehicles in the country, therefore, means that the manufacturers are sure of getting the market and this is where the government’s vehicle-financing scheme becomes very important.

The truth is that with the exception of some high-level state officials, similar officers elsewhere and political appointees, who procure brand-new vehicles, Ghanaians mostly import home-used or secondhand vehicles because of their low purchasing power.

A new car will, thus, “change the air” for a lot of middle-class people who would patronise the scheme.

The Ghanaian Times, therefore, encourages the government to work on all the nitty-gritty of the scheme, make everything about it transparent and attractive and avoiding the phenomenon of “terms and conditions apply”.

This phenomenon is usually used to shortchange those who patronise some promotions and services as the patrons end up complaining about certain issues which were not made open on the outset.

Once the scheme is run well to the satisfaction of those who qualify to access it, they would come for it and the benefits would be everyone’s guess.

The car manufacturers obviously would create some jobs on the value chain and sustain their businesses; the government would save some foreign exchange and Ghana would be ‘sold’ or promoted the more as an investor-friendly destination.

But these benefits can remain a feature of Ghana and its economy when there is protection for all the “inner” stakeholders, namely the companies, their local (Ghanaian) workers; and the buyers.

The companies must not be treated with any obnoxious laws eventually; the expatriate manufacturers must not be allowed to maltreat the local workers and the buyers must not be shortchanged by the manufacturers in terms of their preferred specs.

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