The Ghana Union of Traders Association, GUTA, is demanding the immediate closure of all illegal foreign-owned retail shops that have been reopened for business at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle in Accra.
According to GUTA, most of the shops were only reopened by the presidential Committee on Foreign Retail Trade to inspect the documents of the owners.
GUTA says although the owners did not meet the requirements, they have gone ahead to open the shops for business, even after the Committee ordered them to close the shops.
“We have been duly briefed by the Committee on Foreign Trade that over 90% of the foreigners have not met the requirements. Almost all ECOWAS trading members operating in the country are guilty of rules of origin as stated in the ECOWAS protocols, which means that they do not trade in the goods manufactured in their respective countries”.
“It must be noted herein, that Nigeria closed her borders citing the abuse of ECOWAS protocols with the rule of origin as their reason. ECOWAS traders who import from the outside the ECOWAS community, like all other foreign nationals trading in Ghana, can only trade after satisfying the GIPC conditions on retail trade in the country” GUTA said in a statement.
Basing its argument on section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865, which bars foreigners from engaging in retail business in Ghana, as a space solely reserved for citizens, GUTA locked up over 600 foreign-owned shops in Accra in December last year.
This led to the formation of the Committee on Foreign Retail Trade after the President’s intervention. Few weeks ago, the Committee together with officials of the Ghana Immigration Service, the Ghana Revenue Authority and some GUTA leaders, reopened some of the shops in a three-day exercise, after the owners provided documents to back their trade.
But GUTA says some of the Nigerian retailers who had no legitimate documents, have also gone ahead to reopen their shops for business while the authorities look on unconcerned.
We hereby want authorities and the Ghanaian public to note that, these recalcitrant foreigners have taken the law of our country into their own hands with impunity whiles the authorities look on unconcerned”.
GUTA is thus asking government to close down these shops again to avoid a response from its members who are agitated over the development.
“GUTA has been quiet and cooperative all this time just to allow the Committee on Foreign Retail Trade to execute it’s mandate as directed by His Excellency the President of the Republic himself. GUTA welcomes all genuine foreigners who abide by the laws of our country. We also welcome our neighbours from the sb-region (ECOWAS), who deal in goods manufactured in their respective countries. However, we wish to be categorical that we will not countenance anything in the contrary, and as a result, we demand the immediate closure of those shops to avoid any unfortunate situation, as tension is mounting on the matter” it warned.