Editorial: Chairing ECOWAS presupposes one upholds its tenets

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ECOWAS Map

Since our president is currently chairing the regional body ECOWAS, it is appropriate to revisit the lingering tension between Ghanaian traders and their Nigerian counterparts. In today’s edition of the B&FT, a concise feature that dissects the problem and offers irrefutable answers to the nagging problem is published.

We entreat all who are passionate about the subject to read the feature by Dr.  Douglas Zormelo titled: ‘Should Nigerians be barred from certain businesses in Ghana?’ We would like to borrow the preamble to the feature for its succinctness.

“Regional economic integration is predicated on the important principles of competition and the reallocation of resources. Efficiency results from less inefficient producers being pushed out of an area of economic activity into other areas where their resources might be better invested.”

Dr. Zormelo goes on to state that: “The development of the region through integration requires an expanded market beyond those that the individual member-states currently have, except for Nigeria. For Ghana to expand its market beyond the borders of this country to especially Nigeria, there must be a clear understanding that it must be possible for the right of ECOWAS citizens to move freely, reside and also establish businesses in each other’s country to be respected.

“The Protocol Relating to Free Movement of Persons, Residence and Establishment was enacted in May 1979. Its implementation was to be completed over a 15-year period, which means the protocol ought to have been fully in place by 1994. Why then is it that – 26 years after it ought to have been in place – we are still wrangling over who should be trading where and in what?”

Since we would urge our readership to peruse the script themselves, we will leave it here. But what baffles us most is that the political leadership encourages groups like GUTA to go on rampages which only go to dent the good name of Ghana.

Sure, there is a GIPC law in place – but should it take precedence over the bigger objective? We think not. Instead of educating these trade groups about national commitments, we descend low because of political convenience. At least, we can offer support for the GIPC CEO, Yoofi Grant, who publicly opined that there might be a need to revisit the GIPC law.

Clearly, he has shown a greater appreciation for the issue rather than just parroting the law – which in our opinion was not deeply thought through.

Postponement of mandatory COVID tests for a week conciliatory

In yesterday’s edition of the paper, we carried in one of our editorials that the mandatory online COVID-19 test is causing angst among airline operators and urged that a middle-ground be found to bring about amicable understanding between the parties.

However, as at the time of going to press, the original story that carried the matter was revised and published instead – hence, we would like to add that it is gratifying the Ghana Airports Company (GACL) quickly responded to demands of airline operators by postponing the mandatory online COVID tests.

GACL postponed implementation of the mandatory online COVID-19 test payment for all in-bound passengers to Ghana to Monday, September 21; and we believe this is crucial since the operators are key stakeholders in the aviation industry, and any misgivings they may have ought to be addressed properly and definitely.

Postponing it for another week will give the airline operators ample time to relay the information to their bases, and it will give them time to prepare for the directive without incurring additional costs – as emphasised in their concerns.

This proves that the GACL is also factoring the interests of airline operators, and this is a good sign for mutual engagement after a marathon meeting between the aviation industry’s stakeholders held on Tuesday.

Additionally, among their concerns was the fact that airlines sought aggressive advertisements to sensitise travelers; and with a week’s grace period, the GACL can embark on doing just that so that no-one is left behind and everyone is on the same page.

Airline operators made a strong case as to how the move will lead to huge revenue losses and also burden passengers, due to the short notice that accompanied the directive – which was supposed to take effect from September 15th.

According to the airlines, even though they would have wished for a lengthier period, they will make do with the deferment. The development would have led to huge revenue loss on their part, as some passengers bought their tickets even before the directive was announced.

We are pleased to learn that both parties have reached an amicable solution, and this will sustain the goodwill that exists among the parties. The airline operators have already forwarded the directive to their head offices, for it to be posted on their official websites to inform passengers who want to travel into Ghana.

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