Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC), Yoofi Grant believes the panacea to resolve the standoff between Ghanaian and Nigerian traders lies in the strict enforcement or revision of the retailers law.
Section 27 of the GIPC Act 865, bars foreigners from engaging in retail business in Ghana
His comments follow Wednesday’s attack on some Nigerian traders by a section of the members of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Associations (GUTA) at Suame Magazine in the Ashanti Region.
Mr. Grant who admitted challenges with the implementation of the law and the inability to have offenders penalized due to lapses in the existing structures wants the appropriate agencies to take a cue from similar incidents in the past to address the stalemate.
“In our law, it says that, the actual administration of the market, is the responsibility of the local authorities. There are times in the past where with the help of GUTA, people were taken to court but lost the cases because a lot of these markets were not gazetted. We must also be guided by history where there was an alien’s compliance order which was borne out of similar issues and the Agege trade which they also retaliated. The law is there and so far as this law is there then you have to take this action but how to take that action is where the difficulty lies. And that is why successive governments have been through it with problems.”
“If the law is not helping us, let us look at it and see if we can amend it to remove some of these problems but at the end of the day this is Ghana and the Ghanaian is the most important beneficiary”, he added.
Some Ghanaian traders on Tuesday ransacked shops and forcibly closed down some shops in the area belonging to Nigerians.
GUTA said while it does not support the action, it blames the enforcers of Ghana’s trade laws for the development because its members acted out of frustration and the failure of authorities to enforce laws that ensure that foreign traders in the country comply with existing laws.
Ghanaian traders had for a very long time lamented about the operations of the Nigerians in the industry but very little had been done by state authorities to deal with the problem.
Gov’t has the interest of Ghanaians at heart
According to Yoofi Grant, government is very much concerned about the current turn of events and as a result is committed to putting in place interventions aimed at prioritizing the interest of the ordinary Ghanaian trader.
He, however, warned that, although the fears of the Ghanaian traders are genuine, they should be mindful of how they carry out their actions and hold consultative engagements.
“We are Ghanaians and we all wish for the betterment of the Ghanaian trader. And when it comes to the point that the source of your livelihood is threatened and they feel that they are not getting the right response then it escalates. The [rampaging traders] may not have the full support of GUTA but the anger of this thing not being resolved is not helping matters…GUTA must continue with the engagements because it is important. We don’t mind foreigners in our markets but we definitely mind displacement. I understand their point. ”
“Government is very concerned because of the international dimensions but we also clearly believe that the mandate is to create jobs for Ghanaians so we are very happy to work to the advantage of the Ghanaian. There are many policies to reduce the cost of doing business and make our people competitive”, Mr. Grant noted.
What the law says
Section 27 of the GIPC Act talks about the entry, admission and protection of investment as well as the activities reserved for Ghanaians and Ghanaian owned enterprises.
(1) A person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by citizen shall not invest or participate in—
a. 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;
b. the operation of taxi or car hire service in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty-five vehicles;
c. the operation of a beauty salon or a barber shop;
d. the printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services;
e. the production of exercise books and other basic stationery;
f. the retail of finished pharmaceutical products;
g. the production, supply and retail of sachet water; and
h. all aspects of pool betting business and lotteries, except football pool.