Import restrictions bill crucial for debt sustainability and forex control – AGI

  Tue, 28 Nov 2023
Business & Finance Import restrictions bill crucial for debt sustainability and forex control  AGI

The Association of Ghanaian Industries (AGI) has expressed support for the proposed import restrictions bill, viewing it as a crucial step towards achieving economic stability.

The AGI, representing a wide range of industries in Ghana, believes that the bill’s enactment by Parliament will aid in Ghana’s debt sustainability efforts and enhance control over foreign exchange reserves.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture has submitted a bill to Parliament outlining the government’s intention to impose import restrictions on 22 specific commodities, including poultry, animal and vegetable oil, margarine, fruit drinks, soft drinks, mineral water, noodles and pasta, ceramic tiles, corrugated paper and paperboard.

The remaining items on the list are mosquito coils, insecticides, soaps and detergents, motor cars, iron and steel, cement, polymers (plastics and plastic products), fish, sugar, clothing and apparel, biscuits, and canned tomatoes.

According to the government, this measure is intended to curb the influx of these goods, aiming to strike a balance between supporting local industries, conserving foreign exchange, and ultimately fostering economic resilience.

While the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) and the Federation of Freight Forwarders have voiced their opposition to the bill, citing concerns about potential corruption, the AGI has maintained its support.

Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, AGI President, Dr Humphrey Ayim-Darke emphasized that the bill is a response to the need to restore Ghana’s fragile economy.

“Our view is that the bill is in the right direction, it is a positive development. Once you realise that it is coming at the back of a fragile economy with an IMF intervention that seeks to bring sustainability and the purpose of the IMF stability is on the balance of payment and the forex reserve challenges that we have.

“So it is a transitional programme to help the economy. If the government believe that there are some products that are giving us difficulties in terms of our BOP and forex and by virtue of that seeks to bring intervention in that space that is how we seek to create a sustainable forex and a BOP according to our budget and need”.

Dr. Ayim-Darke also stressed the importance of a private member chairing the committee that will oversee the implementation of this bill.

“Our position is that it is purposeful to use this bill to control the forex. That is why we are proposing that because this will have more impact on the private sector, let the private sector chair it”.

Dr. Ayim-Darke, however, acknowledged the need for thorough stakeholder consultation on import restrictions to mitigate unintended consequences.