The Ghana-Ivory Coast Rice Importers and Sellers Association has made a passionate appeal to President John Dramani Mahama to as a matter of urgency, lift the ban imposed on the importation of rice through all landed frontiers in the country.
At a press conference in Kumasi where they made the appeal, members of the association contended that importing rice through only the Kotoka International Airport, the Tema and the Takoradi ports as directed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry, was likely to create a monopoly for foreigners who operated those businesses and kick indigenous Ghanaians out of business.
“Implementing such a policy will also increase the cost of transacting business in Ghana and create social agitation and civil unrest because businessmen will pass the increased cost to consumers for them to agitate against the high cost of living,” the Secretary of the association, Mr Mensah Bonsu, declared during the press conference.
It was on the theme: “The dangers and effects of the ban on the importation of rice into Ghana by land”.
Members of the association wore red bands and chanted war songs.
In the October 14, 2013 issue of the Daily Graphic, the Ministry of Trade and Industry issued a notice to rice importers that with effect from November 1, 2013, “all imports of rice shall be done through only the Kotoka International Airport, the Tema and the Takoradi ports”.
It also directed that “importation of rice through all land frontiers shall be illegal and haulers who cart rice from any land port commit an offence”.
The ministry further warned that “any person who fails to comply with any of the directives in this notice or does not cooperate with officers carrying out any specific assignment under this notice shall be prosecuted”.
Reacting to the directives, members of the association noted that they had always paid their duties at the ports of entry and wondered why the minister was using tax evasion as an excuse to ban the importation of rice through landed frontiers.
They said it was important for President Mahama to implore the Minister of Trade and Industry to reverse the policy, explaining that implementing it was expected to negatively impact on indigenous small and medium-scale rice importers.
“ Already, many of us have taken loans from banks with huge interests to import such products and have made deposits to our suppliers in Cote d’Ivoire to supply us rice, so implementing it will cause us to incur huge losses,” Mr Bonsu declared during the press conference.
“If the government goes ahead to implement this policy, it will kill competition, create monopolies, reduce the supply of rice and for these reasons the price of rice will go up in the country,” he declared.
He said implementing the policy was also likely to induce smuggling, reduce revenue for the state and further increase the rate of unemployment.