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12.04.2005 Business & Finance

Maintain duties on rice and poultry products - Tanoh

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Accra, April 12, GNA - Government had no excuse for withdrawing duties it had imposed on imports of rice and finished poultry products, Mr Gyekye Tanoh of the Economic Unit of the Third World Network said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, Mr Tanoh said the Government's inability to maintain and implement the increased duties had broken the back of local industries and rendered them uncompetitive.

In 2003, the Government increased duty on rice imports from five per cent to 25 per cent while that of poultry moved from 20 per cent to 40 per cent with the aim to supporting and making domestic production more competitive.

Although the enabling legislation was passed by Parliament, the duty was never implemented and was recently withdrawn.

Government said it withdrew the duty in order to keep in line with Economic Community of West African States Protocol on Tariffs, avoid the negative impact of a hike in prices due to the duty increases on consumers and the inability of local producers to meet domestic demand. But Mr Tanoh said these reasons were untenable.

He said many member countries of ECOWAS had infringed the protocols on tariffs with impunity and in some cases had placed an outright ban on imports from other member countries.

Mr Tanoh said most of the poultry farmers, who took note of the measures announced in 2003, were now reeling under debt from the loans they took from the banks to expand their operations. He said the Government needed to do more to reverse the situation and ensure a level playing field for the poultry and rice producers to remain competitive.

Touching on the global trade week, he said the Coalition of Civil Society Organisation was drawing attention of governments, institutions and agencies to the harsh effects of liberalisation and unfair trade practices on the poor. 13 April 05

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