SHOPS OWNED by Ghanaians will be closed to public today, November 14, 2007. Members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) said their shops will remain closed to the public till Monday, November 19, 2007 in protest against the invasion of foreigners into the country's retail business.
The members said they decided to lay down their tools and shut their operations to the public in order to make their pleas heard.
The Acting President of GUTA, George Ofori told the CITY& BUSINESS GUIDE that the decision which was made by representatives of all members of the union at a meeting in Accra was taken after serious deliberations.
According to him, all other means have been explored and members think though this may not be the last resort, “we hope something fruitful will come out of it”.
He pointed out that of late there have been an influx of foreign operators in the retail sector, operating in the markets, which is the preserve of Ghanaian owned companies and he blamed the Ghana Investment Promotions Centre (GIPC) for the development.
“The GIPC is supposed to be the implementing agency that is expected to regulate the activities of foreign investors. We have not seen any thing good come out of the GIPC,” he said.
He pointed out that there are investment codes which these foreign operators are expected to follow “but GUTA has realized that the investment code is being flouted by the foreigners”.
A section of the investment code under 1994 Act 478 stipulates that before a foreign company comes into the country to commence business in the retail sector it should come with $300,000 in cash or in equity of goods.
The foreign operator, the investment code noted, should employ at least 10 Ghanaians. Mr. Ofori said it is obvious that foreign companies are not complying with the investment code.
“We want that part of the investment code to be reviewed.”
GUTA has proposed that the initial equity requirement be increased from $300,000 to at least $1.5million and the number of Ghanaians to be employed by the foreign companies should not be less than 50.
Today the members, who do not plan to hit the streets, will meet at the Opera Square in the Accra Central Business District in their red bands for a short discussion.
“After the gathering we will all depart for our various homes and our shops and stores will remain closed till Monday November 19,” the acting President of GUTA said.
A special team set up by the GIPC in the middle of the year closed down some foreign companies which registered as manufactures but were operating as retailers.
Robert Ahomka Lindsay, CEO of GIPC told journalists in Accra that his outfit is also not comfortable with the section of the law which asks prospective investors to pay an initial equity contribution of $300,000, proposing a $1million figure.
He promised to do something about the current situation and encouraged Ghanaian owned companies to register with GIPC to enable the centre create a database of Ghanaian companies to know the sectors they operate in and the level of employment.
By Emelia Ennin