With government introducing a string of initiatives to root-out smugglers and pirates of textiles, local manufacturers are anxiously waiting for these initiatives to bear fruit while protecting their businesses from collapse.
Stephen Kofi Badu, Marketing Director at GTP – one of the local manufacturers, said the introduction of policies such as the imminent tax stamps for the textile industry with its implementation task force, and making Tema the only port of entry for imported textile products on a pilot basis offers hope – but these policies must bear fruit quickly.
“It makes us feel that there is hope for the textile industry, especially the local manufacturers of textiles in Ghana,” he said at the launch of Adepa Dumas, a new GTP product targetted at premium clients, and VG Jala, a mobile phone application to aid buyers of GTP, Vlisco and Woodin products make informed choices.
“If you are in the local textile manufacturing sector, every day we wake up to a lot of disillusionment because we are not sure what the future holds. Production figures and trends show that things seem to be going down all the time. With all these measures being taken by government, it gives us a lot of hope for the future,” he said.
The Ministry of Trade and Industry recently named Tema Harbour as the only port of entry for imported textiles, as part of a raft of measures by government to curb smuggling, tax evasion and piracy.
“We back the idea of using Tema as the only port of entry for textile imports on a pilot basis. With the pervasiveness of textile smugglers and pirates, government must be very drastic in its approach – otherwise it will not succeed.
“I believe that nothing ventured, nothing gained. The challenge is so huge that if you do not attempt any solution nothing gets done, and it is getting worse,” Mr. Badu added.
Mr. Badu advised/encouraged government to introduce a policy that should be backed with action, which will direct all government institutions and schools to patronise textiles and everything made in Ghana.
“We say it, but it is not backed by action. Government is the biggest consumer in any economy. If we have government consuming locally-made rice, poultry, cement, furniture, much of the manufacturing sector will be revived. Let us have policies that are backed with action. I see our president almost always wearing GTP, Printex or ATL, which is very commendable and I hope others will follow,” he said.
Other measures include a tax stamp policy, which will see physical stamps affixed on both local and imported textiles – including the provision of a special stamp for existing or old stock for traders, while government is to open direct negotiations with foreign producers to establish manufacturing bases in the country.
The new directives, according to Minister of Trade and Industry Alan Kyerematen, are to among other things ensure that the right duties due the state are paid; prevent counterfeiting and importation of pirated and sub-standard wax prints; and to ultimately provide a timely lifeline for the once-buoyant local textile industry.
In the early 1980s, the local textile industry employed over 30,000 people with over 15 major producers: but today, only three of those companies are left. The textiles of the three main local manufacturers –Akosombo Textiles Limited (ATL), Printex and Tex Styles Limited (GTP), account for just 23 percent of the 120 million yards per annum of textiles consumed in the country.
The third directive will see traders with old stock given a different coloured tax stamp to be affixed on old stock; this is to ensure that these traders are not affected during verification exercises.