Foreigners cannot engage in retail business - Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu
Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader in Parliament is calling on the Government of Ghana to strictly implement and enforce the legislation that requires any foreigner who wants to do business in Ghana to invest a minimum of US$1 million and employ at least 12 Ghanaian citizens.
“When it comes to these matters the country should not compromise on them,” he asserted, in contribution to a statement on the floor of Parliament in Accra, on Thursday.
Many foreigners are engaged in the local retail trade, but Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu insisted that foreigners, especially those from the sub-region and elsewhere cannot be allowed to engage in the local retail trade.
According to him, though Ghana has ratified many conventions, these agreements cannot supplant the constitution of the country.
“Mr Speaker I have heard people say that Ghana has ratified conventions, yes we ratified conventions but the conventions cannot supplant our constitution, as simple as that”.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s contribution was in reaction to a statement by Mr Collins Owusu Amankwah, Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia North, on the involvement of foreigners in Ghana’s retail trade and its implications.
Recently, some Ghanaian traders in Suame, Kumasi locked up the shops of some Nigerians who they accused of engaging in local retail trade in violation of the stated provisions of the Ghana Investment Promotion Law (Act 865), which frowns on foreigners engaging in the retail business.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also argued that in the sub-region, the ECOWAS protocols provide for the free movement of goods and services, but when the goods arrive at any destination, the laws of the country provide that retail business should be in the hands of the citizens.
“It is so in Nigeria, it is so in Ghana, it is so in Cote d’Ivoire, so let nobody says that because we have ratified the ECOWAS conventions we allow citizens from other countries, including the sub-region and even elsewhere, Chinese, Turkish and so on to engage in the retail business, that’s not so.”
He said so far as the GIPC law was concerned, any foreigner who wants to do business in Ghana is required to invest a minimum of US$1 million and employ at least 12 Ghanaian citizens, adding that, when it comes to these matters the country should not compromise on them.
Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also explained that foreigners who want do business in Ghana must regularize their stay and register the business they want to engage in.
He cited for example that in the recent Suame incident it came to the fore that many of the foreigners had registered businesses to deal with certain defined items but had reverted to dealing in the sale of spares parts.
He said when the Ghana Standards Authority was also invited to investigate the issue it came out that many of the spare parts, equipment and medicines, which were being sold by these foreigners were sub-standard.
Mr Amankwah in his remark called on all the parties involved in the recent disputes between Ghanaian traders and foreigners to exercise restraint in dealing with the matter and be circumspect in their utterances.
He said the parties must also be cautious in their actions and statement in order not to inflame passions which may have the potential to escalate the impasse.
“It may serve us well if we avoided stereotyping persons and groups with negativity and for that matter assume that all Nigerians are bad or that most of them are here to perpetrate fraudulent and criminal activities,” he said.
Mr Amankwah also called on the security agencies to ensure that cases involving foreigners are thoroughly investigated so that the real culprit is dealt with according to the laws of the land.
He said in order to find a lasting solution to the Suame impasse, the security agencies must engage the local traders in the area to minimize the tension.
He also called on the foreign citizens in Ghana to abide by the laws of the country and refrain from engaging in illegal activities.
Alhaji Inusa Fuseini, MP for Tamale Central in his comment stated that despite government ratifying protocols to take advantage of other big markets on the continent it still has a responsibility to prevent foreigners from entering the local retail trade.
He said the laws are clear that the retail business is the exclusive preserve of Ghanaians and that if a foreigner what to engage in retail business he required to invest US$1 million and employ at least 12 Ghanaians.
“So we have put some fetters in the involvement of foreigners in the retail business. So our brothers and sisters in the sub-region who want to do business in Ghana, we are saying that you can do the wholesale business. When you bring your goods sell them to Ghanaians to do the retail business”.
Alhaji Fuseini also stated that they would resist any attempt to allow foreigners to participate in the local retail trade, adding that, they cannot take the jobs that are exclusively reserved for Ghanaians.
He, however, condemned the traders in Suame, Kumasi, for taking the law into their hands, which he said was not justifiable.
“Sometimes I feel sympathetic to their course because it appears to me that state institutions which have been established to ensure compliance with the law fail, refuse or neglect to enforce the law”.
Mr Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central in his comment bemoaned the bad attitude of some Ghanaians for aiding these foreigners to flout the laws of the country by fronting and registering those businesses in their name.
He said anywhere in the world when the genuine economic interests of indigenes are threatened natural they would protest, agitate and fight back.
He said the mandate of the leaders of the country is to protect the interest of Ghanaians but also reach out to their colleagues in Nigeria and see how best to resolve the problem.