Category: Exclusive Created on Tuesday, 12 June 2012 08:22 Published Date
From MASAHUDU KUNATEH in Accra, Ghana
Ghana Bureau Chief
ACCRA, (CAJ News) - WITH barely 12 days for Ghana to ban foreign traders in the country’s retail business sector, foreign traders are calling on the Ghanaian president to tamper justice with mercy by extending the deadline to December, 2012.
In a snap survey by CAJ News, foreign traders operating in Ghana pleaded with the government to extend their business until December as they wrapped up their initiatives in order to get cash.
According to foreign traders, mainly Nigerians, Indians, Chinese, Somalis, Pakistan and others from Europe argued that if the ban is extended to December, this year they would be able to get some money from banks, relatives and friends to undertake joint venture businesses with their Ghanaian counterparts in the West African country.
Cross-sections of foreign retail traders who spoke to CAJ News in Accra, Ghana’s capital town complained that the intended ban could affect their businesses as well as their relatives back home.
Amaefola Chijioke, a Nigerian, who sells mobile phones at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle, said he and his fellow Nigerians are prepared to leave the Ghanaian retail business sector if the government can provide them with alternative places to run their businesses.
He admitted that retail trading in every country is reserved for nationals of that country, but the Ghanaian government should exercise patience with us. It is not our making that we have invaded the Ghanaian retail business sector, it is because of no jobs in Nigeria, Chijioke said politely.
When asked if the Government of Ghana does not hear their plead what will they do? He said “we will not have any option than to go back to Nigeria”.
Another Nigerian, Samuel Chika who plies his retail business at the Central Business District of Accra pleaded that the Government of Ghana should jobs in other sectors of the Ghanaian economy for us to do. We Nigerians are multi-talented meaning we can work every sector, he indicated.
A jewelry retailer of a Nigerian decent told the CAJ News in her plus shop at the Accra Mall that she had started looking for Ghanaian to partner her in the business. “I even went to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to help me get a Ghanaian to partner to share the company with,” Hajia Aisha indicated.
At Lava Shopping Centre, an Indian who only gave his name his Singh said “we don’t know what do. We are only waiting for the 21 June, 2012. But, when we get there we will cross”.
As you know we have invested several millions of Ghanaian Cedis on this electronic business and we even employed some Ghanaians working for us. In this regard what I can say is to appeal to the Ghanaian government to tamper justice with mercy, stated soberly.
Rajev Kumar could not author a word when CAJ News put questions to him in connection with the intended ban. In his own words “Am speechless and I don’t know what to do”.
From the day that the government announced the date for the ban, I and family have been having sleepily nights, a worried Chinese shop own told this journalist in his mobile phone shop at Adabraka, a suburb of Accra.
However, Ghana says the four-month moratorium given to non-Ghanaians engaged in illegal trading activities to comply with relevant provision of Section 18 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act 1994 (Act 478) will expire on June 21.
Consequently, the Inter-Agency Task Force tasked to clamp down on the illegalities perpetrated by the illegal traders would on Monday June 25, move into market places to shut stores and deal with any emerging issues including tax evasion and non-compliance with immigration regulations.
Hannah Tetteh, Ghana’s Minister of Trade and Industry announced. Though the relevant provision of the Act reserved retail trading in the marketplaces exclusively for indigenous Ghanaian operators, some foreigners have blatantly violated the law.
Places they have been spotted operating include Circle-Tip-Toe lane, Odawna market area, Kantamanto, Makola, Tema Station, Abossey Okai Spare Parts markets, Accra Post Office, Zongo-Lane, Adabraka market and Malata, all in Accra.
Others include UTC Shoes market, Fishing Net market, Agbogboshie, Timber market, Tudu area, Achimota market, Nima, Odorkor and Mallam market, Kasoa and Weija market, New Town market, Kotobabi and Pig Farm area and Teshie.
Meanwhile, Ms Tetteh stressed that the Government of Ghana was not expropriating the assets of the non-Ghanaians dismissing the suggestion that government was engaged in alien enforcement act.
“We are not telling them to sell their properties, or move from the country. All that we are asking them to do is to comply with the law.”
Ms Tetteh said “The laws of Ghana require Ghanaians who wish to establish businesses to register or incorporate their businesses with the Registrar General’s Department (RGD), and register with the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to satisfy their obligations to the State. What is required of Ghanaian citizens is equally required from non-Ghanaians.”
She said the provision in the GIPC Act required foreigners who wished to engage in trading activities to invest a minimum of GH¢300,000, adding that, non-Ghanaians were not to establish their businesses in market places though they could operate in other commercial areas.
“This is because trading is an economic activity with relatively low entry costs, as opposed to setting up a manufacturing or services oriented business.
Therefore the intention of the Act is to ensure that Ghanaians in the micro and small enterprise sector are not subjected to the kind of competition from foreign businesses that would make it unprofitable for them to operate.”
She said “In embarking upon this legitimate operation, we are conscious of the existence of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, the Right of Residence and Establishment.”
Ms Tetteh gave the assurance that Ghana would not breach the provisions of the protocols to which Ghana was a signatory to.