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15.11.2007 General News

Government To Enforce Investment Code


The inability of the government to see to the full implementation of the Investment Code, which seeks to regulate all businesses in the country, has led to the closure of many retail businesses, traders said in Accra yesterday.

The problem has also led to the importation of inferior goods, evasion of tax, as many foreign businesses, which registered as importers and distributors of goods, have branched into the retail sector, they said in a protest against the invasion of the retail trade by foreigners, especially Chinese, Nigerians, Indians and Turks.

Addressing a rally held by the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) after a protest march, Mr George Kweku Ofori, Acting President, said every country had laws and regulations, which covered investments by foreigners.

He said these laws were specific on trade and businesses that foreigners could engage in and those to be handled exclusively by the citizens.

The rally attracted the Abbosey Okai Spare Parts Dealers Association, the Odaw River Spare Parts Dealers Association, the Ghana Electrical Dealers Association and the Ghana Electronics Dealers Association.

The rest are the Fishing Nets Traders Association, Kantamanto Hardware Traders Association, Kantamanto Second Hand Clothes Dealers Association, Sewing Accessories Sellers Association, among others.

Mr Ofori said the full implementation of such a policy had helped tremendously in the socio-economic development of many countries in the world, especially in Europe and Asia. He said there were serious implications of the influx of foreign businesses, which had registered as distributors of goods, but branched into the retail sector.

Mr Ofori said this had led to low sales by Ghanaians because the goods of these foreigners were cheaper. He noted that foreign retailers had ventured into all sectors of the economy from the sale of mining machinery to second hand clothes.

'When they come into the country, they register as importers and distributors of goods. However, before you realise they have acquired shops right beside you, selling the very goods that they are supposed to sell to you in bulk, to sell to your customers because his goods are relatively cheaper as compared to yours,' he said.

Mr Ofori therefore appealed to the government to ensure that foreigners who wanted to invest in the country adhered to the Investment Code and also amend some of the laws in order to bring sanity into the private sector and other small businesses.

'The 300,000 dollars that is required from foreigners who want to set up businesses in the country by the government should be raised to between one million dollars and 1.5 million dollars because the present amount is small and has actually paved the way for many of them to get themselves involved in the retail business.'

Mr Ofori urged the government to make sure that foreigners who ventured into the retail sector increased the workforce of Ghanaians from 10 to 25 and also paid their Social Security contributions regularly.

He added that the government should authorise the Bank of Ghana to regulate all foreign businesses and also make sure that all foreign retailers saved with banks in the country.

'We appeal to you, the government, to come to our aid and act quick before the problem gets out of hand since we all take part in the development of the private sector,' he said.