A Deputy Trade Minister, Carlos Ahenkorah, has stressed the importance of diplomacy following the suspension of the deadline for removing foreigners from Ghana’s retail markets.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry has cited inadequate sensitization on the move as the reason for the suspension.
The deadline was initially July 27, 2018, after similar deadlines in the previous governments elapsed but nothing significant happened.
Though the suspension has been met with some criticism from the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Mr. Ahenkorah has assured that the government is not reneging on its promise to sanitize the retail sector.
On the Citi Breakfast Show, he explained that foreign embassies that had been engaged indicated that not enough education had taken place.
“So we are going to stand down on our publication and go about the sensitization and education and once we are okay with ourselves that this thing has gone deep down, we’ll come back.”
He is also wary of creating the impression that foreign traders are being stigmatized.
“We need to use all the diplomatic abilities available to us before we roll this out… we need to go about this in a way that people will not see it as stigmatization.”
“If we come to you with a checklist, we will mark it and whatever you did not pass in, we will assist you to pass in that line… we are going to ensure that if people don’t comply, they will be given time to comply after which if you are not able to do that, we will refer you to the Attorney General to now take the law and operate with it.”
Per the GIPC law Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act, a person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.
But this law has not been enforced to the ire of Ghanaian retailers.
Locals have over the years complained about foreigners, especially the Chinese, invading the retail sector.
In 2016, some fishing gear retailers threatened to close down shops operated by Chinese nationals if the government fails to stop them from establishing retail businesses.
The aggrieved traders complained that the Chinese who are mainly their suppliers had established shops in the country and are engaging in retailing of fishing gears and other equipment.