Gov’t must ensure free and fair trade — Unilever boss

Ziobeieton Yeo (Managing Director of Unilever Ghana Ltd.)

While free trade is desirable, it must be on fair grounds where every player, local or foreign, respects the rules, Managing Director of Unilever Ghana Ltd., Ziobeieton Yeo, has said – calling on government to ensure fair play.

In an interview with the B&FT on what government must do to revive the country’s manufacturing sector, Mr. Yeo said: “How do you make policies that are more business-friendly? From a taxation point of view all the way to regulatory agencies, how do you ensure that any product that is Made in Ghana or imported into Ghana actually goes by the standard specifications that are put in place?

“So, that is what I mean by saying government must continue to make efforts at ensuring the right conditions remain – the ones that encourage not only investment but allow for businesses to continue thriving, and I believe we will get there.”

He said: “We believe in free-trade but it must be on a fair-grounds — everybody needs to respect the law. When something is coming in, we need to identify clearly what it stands for; and it needs to pay whatever must be paid. So, how do we ensure that what comes in complies with the taxes and also with the expected quality?”

Mr. Yeo is not the only industry player calling for government to implement polices that will encourage local production and boost private-sector investment.

Last week, at the Ghana Economic Forum in Accra, Acting Deputy Executive Director of the National Board for Small Scale Industries (NBSSI) Mrs. Anna Himbson decried the lacking enforcement of rules and regulations by regulatory agencies, which is harming the manufacturing sector’s progress.

“We cannot build a strong manufacturing base if the regulatory systems are not working. There are a thousand and one policies at our regulatory bodies, but to what extent are we implementing them?” she asked.

The CEO of Eden Tree Ltd., Mrs. Catherine Krobo-Edusei, also said at the same programme: “We need to do something about the sub-standard imports that are coming in. We need our regulatory bodies to be on top of it”.

Local cable manufacturers have also called on government to enforce strict standards on imported electrical cables, as it is reported that about 96 percent of them are fake.

The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has reported that after inspecting and testing electrical items including wire cables, switches, bulbs and extension boards in August this year, it found that almost all of them were not authentic products.

The Director of GSA, Prof. Alex Dodoo, said through smuggling, fake and substandard goods have flooded Ghana’s market; hence the need to apply the country’s laws on trade.

“Trade has to be based on standards. We will ensure that the products come in properly. The GSA will adhere to the law and will be strict and offer no favours,” he told journalists.

He however assured that the GSA will intensify its monitoring and inspection to rid the system of substandard and fake products.

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