The Ghana Union of Traders Association, GUTA, has warned that it will resist in no uncertain terms any attempt to review the GIPC Act, (Act 865), as it seeks to protect Ghanaian traders. This is in reaction to a statement made by the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Bagbin in Nigeria’s House of Representatives, to have the Act looked at. According to GUTA, the Speaker, has no right to have made such a statement as Nigeria has taken stiffer measures to protect its businesses as they closed the country’s borders for several months.
Addressing a news conference in Accra, President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng, said the Act which was passed in 1994, was to strategically position Ghanaian businesses to create employment and prevent dumping. He said Ghana has signed onto different trade protocols such as ECOWAS and AfCFTA, and all these will be a mirage, if governments on the continent do not align to promote industrialization on the African continent. Dr. Obeng emphasized that GUTA will not relent in its efforts to ensure that only qualified foreigners engage in legitimate businesses in the country. He said “Ghana has her investment laws that drive investments to her preferred destination such as high technological know-how and capital-intensive areas, manufacturing sector and agriculture mechanization. The retail trade sector is consciously and strategically reserved for the citizens of Ghana, to prevent unemployment, especially, for those who cannot be employed in the main streams, public and civil services and other white color jobs.”
He said the trading community will therefore not allow any person, or institution that may have a perceived agenda to amend the GIPC Act, (Act 865) to please other countries to the disadvantage of the Ghanaian trader. Dr. Obeng stressed that it will be imperative that the cardinal principles of the various treaties signed, such as the Rules of origin, are upheld to the letter. He said the issue of excessive importation can only be dealt with, if these issues are given critical attention. He said the Association will not agree to any intervention that seeks to open the country’s market up to illegitimate foreign retailers. He said, “members of the trading community have never and will never prevent any African in our midst from trading freely in goods and services that are produced in member states, but will fiercely resist any abuse of the rules of origin by any member state.”
In a related development, GUTA has appealed to the Ghana Revenue Authority, (GRA) to provide some respite to traders as the COVID-19 pandemic has had rippling effect on their operations. According to Dr. Obeng, the beginning of 2021 saw global upsurge of the pandemic, leading to increase in commodity prices around the world. He said there has been “prolonged production and delivery periods, as wellas prolonged shipment, high increase in freight charges that multipliedto about 500%, coupled with some local fees and charges and increase in VAT rate among others.” A situation he noted is breaking businesses apart. Hence, consultation with key stakeholders is key in the interest of national development, especially in the course of increasing charges.