An investment banker and business executive, Mr Ken Thompson, has called on Ghanaian authorities to tread cautiously in dealing with foreigners who are perceived to have flouted the country’s laws.
Mr Thompson, who is the Chief Executive Officer of Dalex Finance, said if care was not taken in applying the laws where foreigners were involved, it could portray the country to the investor and international community as “hostile to foreigners”.
Speaking to journalists on how the country was dealing with Chinese small scale miners, Mr Thompson and some of his management team members said while the country should apply its laws to the letter, it should do it with caution and in the proper context so as to keep the country’s reputation, as being friendly intact.
“Anybody that does business in Ghana should be made to follow the laws of Ghana and the law must be made to work. The laws must be applied in the manner in which they are intended. But we need to get the perspective right,” Mr Thompson posited.
By virtue of their work, Mr Thompson and his colleagues come face to face with what issues inform investors’ decision to invest in Ghana and how such investments can easily leave the shores of Ghana.
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His concern also included the fact that Ghanaians were travellers who either sought greener pastures or education in other countries.
Currently, many Ghanaians live and earn their living abroad and there are Ghanaians across the world, some of whom had crossed the Sahara Desert.
“So we always have to manage these within the context of how we want our nationals to be treated in other countries,” he cautioned, adding that how the country treated foreigners, not only the Chinese, was being observed by other nationals such as Nigerians, Lebanese, Syrians and Europeans.
For him, the country relied on a lot of foreign direct investment (FDI) and we would continue to rely on them going forward. Given how sensitive the Chinese feel about such treatments, the business executive thinks that the country needed to tread carefully.
China has on several occasions overtaken Britain and Nigeria as the country’s leading FDI source by the number of businesses registered and value of the businesses.
Trade between Ghana and China reached $5.4 billion in 2012, representing 56.5 per cent increase over the previous figure. The number of Chinese registered FDIs also topped the GIPC’s list of FDIs for last year.
In 2010, for instance, while China led the number of registered projects due to its high trading activity, neighbouring Nigeria recorded the highest value of projects for the quarter with a total of $191.83 million of projects.
Current and former presidents have all paid visits to China and the country has organised solo fairs in China such as the Hubei China-Ghana Trade and Investment Exhibition, all in a bid to attract investors.
Mr Thompson said China had recently emerged a super power and a good country to partner Ghana in its socio-economic development.According to him, China has in the last 40 years moved more of its people out of poverty than any country has ever achieved.
On the issue of cracking down on illegal small scale miners, otherwise known as ‘galamsey’, he said the challenge should be tackled head-on across the board, by dealing with it as ‘galamsey menace’ and not singling out the Chinese, as doing so could send wrong signals.
Story: Samuel Doe Ablordeppey