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26.03.2009 General News

Textile industry goes bankrupt

The number of textile and garment factories operating in the country has reduced from 14 in 1975 to only five this year.

This has caused considerable job loss within the sector from about 25,000 to approximately 4,000.

The companies which have managed to stay in operation include Printex Ghana, Ghana Textile Printing (GTP), Ghana Textile Manufacturing Company (GMTC), Freedom Textiles and Akosombo Textiles Limited (ATL).

A document on the textile industry made available to newsmen when the Minister of Trade and Industry, Ms Hannah Tetteh, paid a familiarisation visit to Printex Ghana in Accra on Tuesday indicates that the country still imports over 70 per cent of its textile products despite various attempts to encourage local production to reduce importation.

According to the document, the high imbalance was fuelled primarily by smuggling, which has been estimated to cost the country millions of Ghana cedis, and tax evasion, which had been estimated to cost the country an annual revenue loss of over GH¢50 million.

Printex is a major textile manufacturing company, that is well known for its black and white prints and coloured textiles including seer sucker, gold print, diamond range and Ntamapa.

According to the Managing Director of the company, Mr Millard Millet, the company, which has been in operation for 12 years, hoped to become one of the best textile companies in the sub-region but said the company currently operated at 30 per cent capacity due to the unfavourable competition leading to the low patronage of made-in-Ghana goods.

Ms Tetteh advised Ghanaian textile companies to come together and embark on vigorous public education on the adverse effects of high patronage of cheap smuggled textiles into the country.

She observed that awareness creation about the negative economic consequences of smuggled goods including textiles on the Ghanaian economy was the only way to rescue the indigenous companies from total collapse.

Ms Tetteh explained that public education was crucial because it was important to let people know the reasons why they should prefer or choose certain products instead others which were invariably cheaper, stressing, "We must create opportunities for the Ghanaian textile industries to expand by patronising their products."

She explained that where people tended to buy these imported textiles because they were cheap, what they failed to realize was that they paid much more since those textiles faded quickly and had to be replaced.

Ms Tetteh observed that a collapse of the nation's textile industry would affect jobs and negatively impact on cotton farming in the Northern Region.

She explained that by discouraging people from patronising cheap smuggled textiles into the country, "we are not denying anybody her rights of choice", adding that "we want Ghanaians to be part of a vibrant textile industry in the country".

She appealed to officials of the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS) to be more vigilant at the borders to reduce the amount of smuggled goods into the country.

The minister also visited Aquafresh Limited, a sister company that produces assorted fruit drinks including Kalyppo, Jucee and Fruteli.