Deputy Minister of Trade, Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, is blaming government’s seeming ambivalence over the enforcement of the law that makes local retail trade the preserve of Ghanaians on the shoddy nature of the law that governs retail trade.
In a radio interview monitored by WhatsUp News, Hon. Ahenkorah said the Ghana Investment Promotion Center Act 865 is rather amorphous and lacks clarity in punitive prescriptions.
“This law has been in existence for a very long time and was even reviewed as far back as 2013 and yet nobody was able to enforce it and if today we go in that law, whatever there is in there that stops people from doing what they are not supposed to do, if anybody goes contrary to it, what are the penal provisions within the law that we are supposed to deploy? That is very, very missing in the document itself. These are the reasons we tell them (GUTA) to have some kind of patience and let us see how we resolve it.”
Carlos Ahenkorah’s claims came in the wake of fear that there could be violence against foreigners in retail business in the country, following the expiration of a one day ultimatum that the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) had given all foreigners in retail business to close their shops and leave the country.
Yesterday, GUTA had warned that it would send a taskforce around to close down shops owned by foreigners if the foreigners did not leave peaceful. The Association had justified the call saying that it was in line with enforcing Act865 which makes retail trade in the country the preserve of citizens.
Mr. Ahenkorah appealed to the GUTA members to exercise restraint saying the fault was with the law and not the political will to enforce it.
The Deputy Trade Minister also revealed that the Ministry has already engaged with members of GUTA and impressed on them to abandon their decision to use force against the foreign retail traders.
It is believed that GUTA’s ultimatum had been a retaliatory one against Nigeria, which is said to be having some 7million of its citizens in Ghana most of whom are involved in local retail trade.
Nigeria has had its borders closed to other African countries in spite of the ECOWAS treaty on the free movement of goods and services on the continent.
Following the expiration of GUTA’s ultimatum, the Association did not carry out its threats, apparently because of the meeting with the Trade Ministry.
Meanwhile, the Country Director of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area agreement network, Louis Yaw Afful, wants government to find immediate solution to the Ghana Nigeria trade impasse.
According to him, the problem arises from similar domestic laws on trade in both Ghana and Nigeria and that the issue should be easy to resolve. “What we don’t need to confuse is that if you go to Nigeria itself, they have what they call 79 law that [prohibits foreign or alien businesses that is supposed to be reserved for Nigerians.”