The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has sent a strong message to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) not to touch certain portions of the GIPC Act that offers protection to indigenous traders.
The warning comes after news broke that the GIPC is considering making amendments to Act 865 (2013), which is aimed at promoting investment—both local and foreign—in the economy.
According to Benjamin Yeboah, an Executive Member of GUTA, the GIPC has not had any formal consultation with the association for it to provide inputs to the said amendments; hence the likelihood that very sensitive parts of the Act may be touched.
“As of now, GIPC hasn’t told us exactly where it thinks the problem is in the Act. We are very much concerned with certain portions — like those which require specific amounts foreign investors must invest in the country. The review raised it to US$1million.
And again, those investors shouldn’t be in any market designated for Ghanaians. And, also, any serious investor that comes into the country should be able to create jobs. In the Act, they are supposed to employ twenty or more Ghanaians. These are the very areas we will not want to see any review,” Mr. Yeboah told the B&FT in an interview.
He further lamented the inability of successive governments to enforce the already existing law that has been violated by foreign traders, urging government to enforce the law rather than make any amendments to it.
“We have had foreign traders taking over retail trade in the country for a long time. And we called for a review of the Act in 2013 after a lot of consultation between us and GIPC, but it is left with enforcement. Government upon government seem not to enforce it, and it’s been our worry for a long time.
“But then, we heard in the news that GIPC is proposing some amendments to some parts or portions of the Act; and to us it was a bit of a worry, since we as major stakeholders have not been told anything by GIPC as to where they find any problems in the Act which require some sort of amendment. The Act has been in existence for just about five years, and even with that it has not been enforced. So, why review it?” he questioned.
Meanwhile, the Greater Accra branch of GUTA has said it will petition parliament not to approve any review of the GIPC Act that should it be put before it.
“We are petitioning parliament, as our representatives, to think of Ghana first and ensure trading business stays in the hands of indigenous Ghanaians.
“We look around the country today and foreigners are flouting our good laws and causing the nation a lot more harm than good, as compared to indigenous Ghanaians who hold birthrights in the country.
“We, the Greater Accra Regional Branch of GUTA, cannot tolerate any individual interest that leaves the greater number of traders unemployed and their businesses collapsed…” said a statement signed by Emmanuel Nana Opoku Acheampong, Greater Accra Regional Secretary of GUTA.
But Chief Executive Officer of GIPC, Yofi Grant, dismissed the claims of the association saying that they have been in touch with them and that the process to review the GIPC Act is still at an infant stage with stakeholder consultation still on going.
He insists that centre has not concluded on what amendments should be made to the Act and as such GUTA’s claims are premature.