Business News of 2014-06-28

Comment: Enforce law in retail trade

There is a general lack of respect for the rules of the land, resulting in some level of tension in society. At the government and the non-governmental levels, there is a tendency to break the rules of engagement.

But we know that no society has attained prosperity without the people respecting their norms and values. Unfortunately, our society continues to grope in the dark, after 57 years of independence, struggling to find the right development model that will take us out of poverty, disease and underdevelopment.

Every day, majority of the people see their living conditions deteriorating, while they observe the leadership, both religious and temporal, virtually ‘swim’ in affluence. The paradox of our time, however, is that majority of the people are in want in the midst of plenty.

Ghana is among a few countries that can boast major and precious minerals, rich land and forest resources and yet it cannot balance its budget without recourse to foreign aid. The rich arable land is not able to support the needs of the people, as major staples such as rice and maize, as well as vegetables, are imported even from the Sahel region of the West African sub-region.

Just yesterday, we were told that a significant drop in the supply of fruits and vegetables in Ghana had compelled Blue Skies Products Ghana, a fruit-processing company, to source the commodities from Burkina Faso and Cote d’Ivoire for its production.

As part of efforts at diversifying the economy, the Ghana government, in the 1980s and 1990s, pumped a lot of investment into the non-traditional export sector to produce for the local and international markets.

This brings to mind the campaign waged a few years ago to indigenise the economy; in the words of General Kutu Acheampong, to help Ghanaians “take over the commanding heights of the economy”.

Presently, the Mahama administration is trying hard to promote the consumption of made-in-Ghana goods to stimulate local production and reduce the pressure on the cedi. We also know that although foreigners are welcomed to help build the economy, their support is only complementary, as the ultimate responsibility for rebuilding the economy rests with the government and the people.

The Daily Graphic will not advocate autarky at this stage of globalisation when some level of collaboration is required among the nations of the world. However, it also does not mean we should open our doors wide to people prohibited by law from engaging in certain activities in our society.

Not too long ago, our country nearly came to a standstill when galamsey operators and their foreign collaborators decided to desecrate every parcel of land for gold. It took the intervention of the President to set up a task force to weed out or reduce the menace considerably.

Regrettably, our inability to enforce the regulations to prohibit foreigners from engaging in retail trade has compelled the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) to close down its shops for four days, beginning from today, to protest unfavourable policies that militate their businesses.

Until the government enforces the laws governing retail trade, our markets will be flooded with cheap and shoddy goods that will crowd out local goods. The Daily Graphic calls on the regulatory bodies, such as the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), to enforce the law on business activities in the country to empower the local people to take over the “commanding heights of the economy”.