The Government has cautioned Ghanaians who front for foreign nationals to cheat the system to desist from such criminal conduct or risk jail sentences.
The Government Spokesperson on Finance & Economy, Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng sounded this caution in a radio interview with host, Kwaku Boateng on Shaft Radio in Obuasi
Mr. Kwarteng said there is evidence of increasing abuse of the country's investment code by Ghanaians who use their names to register local businesses, which are actually owned by foreign nationals.
He said, "to help indigenous business people and support the growth of our local industries, our laws and the policy regime provide incentives to Ghanaians who choose to set up businesses in the country. These incentives are not open to foreigners for very good reasons."
Citing an example, the government Spokesperson mentioned that, "the investment code does not allow foreigners to enter the retail sector.
If such foreigners want to, then they must have a minimum capital of$300,000 and employ at least ten Ghanaians in their retail business. On the other hand, foreign nationals who go into manufacturing or farming have no such restrictions, and are even given incentives to do so."
Explaining the rationale behind these provisions, Mr. Kwarteng said, "as a result of superior manufacturing technologies and also the subsidies some governments give to their exporters, foreign nationals of those countries who come directly into our retail sector are likely to out-compete our indigenous retailers. This is because our local retailers import from these same countries at non-¬subsidised prices. To allow such foreigners to easily enter our retail sector is to unfairly deny many ordinary Ghanaians their daily bread."
This explains why the investment code makes it less attractive for foreign nationals to enter small retailing, he added.
"Unfortunately however, some people use their Ghanaian nationality to register businesses for such foreigners, allowing them to escape these conditions. and to push small Ghanaian retailers out of business. This poses danger to our economy and undermines national efforts to support our local businesses. Ghanaians found guilty of such criminal conduct will suffer jail sentences and other stiff punishments."
In a rather passionate voice, Mr. Kwarteng said foreign nationals who consider themselves as friends of this country should raise money in their home countries to enter our manufacturing sector.
"Government would welcome them and give them all the support we can give. In that case, it becomes a win-win situation for the state and for our foreign investors. Those we are worried about are foreign nationals and their Ghanaian accomplices who try to cheat the system," he emphasised.