The meeting, attended by nine (9) Financial Institutions (FIs) in the municipality comprising banks and Micro Financial Institutions, was the first of its kind to be held since the split of the Assembly into two in 2012.
It was a forum for the officials of the Assembly and the FIs to engage each in discussions on ways in which they could collaborate to promote the development of the municipality while giving the later the opportunity to share the challenges militating against their operations.
Issues discussed included the payment of Business Operating Permits (BOPs), Property Rates, and acquisition of development permits (building permits) among others.
Also key on the agenda was the discussion on the provision of financial support for qualified prospective tenants who may not be able to pay outright for the renting of the new market stores being constructed by the Assembly in various parts of the municipality.
The FIs raised concerns about increased rates, delays in acquisition of permits, and bills paid by banks with multiple branches in the municipality among others.
Hon. John Kwao Sackey said that given the current developments in the socio-economic sector of the municipality where the Assembly was constructing a number of market stores, it was appropriate to convene such meeting to discuss and share ideas on how they could partner with the private sector, especially the FIs, to advance this course.
He advised the FIs to approach the Assembly with their concerns in order to get the redress needed to facilitate improvements in their operation.
He said the Assembly was committed to providing a conducive atmosphere for businesses to thrive in the municipality, thus, the initiative to invite them to the meeting.
“We must work together to enable us to know how to handle your situation”, the MCE added.
In response to the issues raised, the MCE stated that provided all relevant documents are available, including clearance from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Ghana Fire Service, it takes only 90 days (3 months) to issue a building permit upon the receipt of an application.
He further explained that “those who apply to put up storey buildings we have to do due diligence on the suitability of the site to accommodate the structure as wells other requirements from the relevant institutions like EPA and Fire Service and this may result in some delays”.
He however, in this direction, asked them to submit any challenges they face in any future applications for prompt action to be taken where possible and necessary.
He also advised those occupying office spaces without requisite permits to liaise with their landlords and submit their documents to be considered for regularization and issuance of permit.
The MCE noted that the Assembly was collaborating with private companies on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) arrangements to reconstruct and complete the Dome and Haatso markets respectively.
He told the FIs that the Assembly is giving existing occupants of the markets being first priority to acquire the new facilities but would count on them to support those who may not be able to afford outright payment of rent.
He further said the Assembly was in negotiations with the companies to determine the costs of renting the market stores and will make available the information to the public in due course, noting that the FIs in the municipality will be given priority on the financial assistance arrangements.
Hon. Kwao Sackey also told the FIs that there was the opportunity for them to also acquire some of the facilities.
He emphasized that the market stores were the property of the Assembly and could only be leased out but not for outright purchase.
The Municipal Coordinating Director (MCD), Alhaji Shehu Awudu Kadiri, also noted that their concerns about the BOPs and Property Rates payments would be looked at and considered during the preparation of the next Fee Fixing Resolution.
The Presiding Member (PM) expressed gratitude to the FIs for seeing the need to attend the meeting and urged them to support the Assembly to enhance the development of the municipality.
The Municipal Engineer, Mr. Justin Glover, using mounted photo exhibits of the models of the markets, explained the various components to the FIs and invited them to the sites to see at first hand the ongoing works and take advantage to invest in the opportunities available.
Some officials of the FIs appealed to the Assembly to improve the condition of roads in the municipality to help reduce their operation costs and boost their interest in doing business.
A follow up meeting has been scheduled tentatively for next month.
By: Okunyin Boaz Orlan-Hackman
Pictures by: Mizpah Etornam Tay