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19.04.2004 Business & Finance

Foreign Investors To Be Monitored

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Foreing investors will, from next year, be required to show proof of their corporate compliance to the state to justify the renewal of their residential and work permits.

This follows the institution of a scheme by the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS) to monitor the real economic activities of foreign investors to ensure that they correspond with the real objects of their initial permits.

Mrs Elizabeth Adjei, the Director of the GIS, who disclosed this in an interview, said the scheme, which requires foreigners to submit evidence of tax clearance certificate, annual returns as well as audited financial statements, had been implemented on a pilot basis for 12 months.

The objective, she said, was to ensure that such foreign investors, after receiving government privileges and concessions, did not turn round to exploit the country and its citizens.She was emphatic that the scheme was not a disincentive to investment since it is currently being used in countries including South Africa, Kenya, Malaysia and Senegal to monitor the benefits of migration by foreigners.

She said in South Africa, for instance, the migration law required that foreign investors submit evidence of their contribution to the South African economy in terms of employing at least two South Africans, with regard to one-man companies, and meeting corporate and tax obligations.

“We are a law enforcement agency and we must ensure that the right things are done. The scheme will help assess the viability of the business and also ensure that there is compliance with our laws,” she stated.

She said about 70 per cent of foreign investors used in the pilot project failed to meet the requirement for justification for the renewal of their continuity stay. Mrs Adjei said the service had been using the pilot project to also sensitise the various companies on the new scheme and was hopeful that by the time it takes off fully, all foreign investors will be up and doing.

She said because the GIS had the responsibility to ensure the continuous stay of foreign investors, the service must be convinced that their stay was of benefit to the economy. “Contemporary immigration faces the challenge of facilitating economic development through the streaming of skills and capital to deliver major economic and social benefits while ensuring border integrity.

In the past, immigration was focused on maintaining strict border control and state sovereignty,” she stressed. "Immigration is a vital pillar of today's global economy. The activities of such investors must be monitored to ensure that they contribute to productivity and operate within the law,” she said.

She said some investors come with plans to invest in manufacturing but change their operations into other activities.Mrs Adjei said those whose permits would be withdrawn could, however, return, on condition that they meet the various requirements to qualify as foreign investors.

She said that was the service's own way of contributing to the economy, apart from ensuring border control and national security.Mrs Adjei said the boards of the various revenue agencies were in support of the scheme, since it would help them in the long term.

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