Business News of 2014-07-09

Foreigners in petty trading warned to stay away

The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) has sent a strong warning to foreign petty traders in the Ghanaian retail market to desist from the practice or be forcibly flushed out of the system.

Consequently, a 13-member task force is to be formed and sent into the various markets to ensure that the laws regarding trade are not infringed upon by foreigners.

The task force would comprise representatives from major institutions comprising the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), the Ghana Police Service, the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and MOTI.

The mandate of the task force would include ensuring the functionality and operation of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) law, and also respond to legitimate concerns of GUTA.

Addressing the press on latest initiatives to address concerns of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), the sector minister, Haruna Iddrisu, said although Ghana remained open to foreign investments and businesses, it would not be to the detriment of Ghanaians.

He emphasised that the retail market, according to MoTI, was exclusively reserved for Ghanaians in accordance with its laws and would therefore no longer harbour foreigners in that market.

“Ghana remains very open to foreign businesses and to foreign investors but we are certainly not inviting petty traders into our economy, we are looking for serious-minded investors who will come in on their own or partner with Ghanaians to be able to do business in Ghana,” he said.

Per the law, the sale of goods and provision of services in the market, petty trading, hawking, taxi services, operation of beauty salons and barbering shops were the sole preserve of Ghanaians and, therefore, a non-Ghanaian or non-citizen could not operate in that market.

That notwithstanding, Mr Iddrisu explained that the country was mindful of its obligations under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

“We are very mindful of our obligations under ECOWAS and we remain committed to facilitating the free movement of goods and services in and out of Ghana and the participation of ECOWAS citizens in and out of Ghana, but certainly not in the exclusive area of retail trading,” Mr Iddrisu stressed.

Mr Iddrisu used the occasion to caution Ghanaians aiding and fronting for foreigners to desist from the act, as it ultimately affected them, apart from it being an offence under the GIPC Act 865, 2013.

“It does not help your cause. You have said that you want the market reserved for you, yet you contradict it by letting out your store purposely for petty trading and retail business to which our law forbids,” the minister noted.

GUTA President

The President of GUTA, Mr George Ofori, in an interview with a section of the media, reiterated the need for respect of sovereign laws governing trade.

According to him, although ECOWAS does not have a harmonious investment law for all West African countries, there is the need to respect the individual laws of the various member states.

On whether the move by the ministry would address their concerns, Mr Ofori said: “Once we have met with the minister and a new program has been drawn, we will sit back and watch the events unfold and see how best we can manage the situation.”

Members of the association embarked on a strike from June 23 this year, in protest against what they described as economic hardships resulting from the retail market being taken over by foreigners.

It took the intervention of the Minster of Trade and Industry to get members back to the negotiating table to find solutions to their grievances.

Source: graphic.com
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