The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has indicated that it remains opposed to the L. I seeking to restrict the importation of certain goods into the country.
At a press conference on Wednesday, December 6, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson said although the NDC is not against any legal regime or policy that seeks to protect indigenous businesses by regulating imports, it is unable to welcome the L. I presented by Finance Minister K.T Hammond to restrict certain imports.
According to him, the Import Restriction L.I is ill-conceived and will lead to corruption and extortion.
“Let me make it clear, that in principle, the NDC is not against any legal regime or policy that seeks to protect indigenous businesses by regulating imports. What we are vehemently against, is a law that confers unfettered discretionary power on a single individual, in this case a Minister of Trade, to issue import licenses and to restrict the quantity of certain imports into the country, without any checks and balances.
“Such laws often breed corruption and cronyism, and can easily be abused to create a monopoly for some few individuals. As it is often said, power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.
“The regulatory framework proposed by the LI is not only opaque, but can lend itself to arbitrariness and abuse. This clearly, is going to be an avenue for extortion and corruption if allowed to stand,” Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson said.
The National Democratic Congress holds the view that the import restrictions if allowed to take effect will have far-reaching implications for Ghanaians.
The said LI, the Export and Import (Restrictions on Imposition of Selected Strategic Products) Regulations, 2023, seeks to give the Minister of Trade and Industry, the sole prerogative and unfettered power to grant licenses to any person desirous of importing into the country, some essential items numbering 22.
The items include Rice, Guts, bladders, stomach and intestines of animals, Poultry, Frozen cuts and offal of fowl, Animal, vegetable, coconut and palm oil, Margarine, Fruit juices, Soft drinks, Mineral water, Ceramic tiles, Corrugated paper and paper board, Mosquito coil and insecticides, Soaps and detergents, Motor cars, Iron and steel, as well as Diaper.
The others are Polymers (plastic and plastic products), Fish, Sugar, Clothing and apparel, Biscuits, Canned tomatoes, and Aluminium products.
As an alternative, the NDC proposes government should introduce a transparent quota system for the importation of certain products, as was done by the erstwhile NDC/Mahama administration in the poultry sector.
“Another mechanism that can be used to regulate imports with the aim of protecting indigenous industries, is the imposition of tariff and non-tariff measures on certain products to encourage the patronage and consumption of locally-produced commodities,” Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson added.