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GIPC Act under review - Draft memo at Finance Ministry

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Edward Ashong-Lartey — Director, Investment Relations, GIPC

THE Director of Investment Relations at the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), Edward Ashong-Lartey, has said the GIPC Act, 2013 (Act 865), is undergoing a review.

That, he said, followed extensive consultations after which draft memo had been sent to the Ministry of Finance.

“Some of the suggestions during the consultation process was one, don’t make it one size fits all. So depending on this, we must have certain specific requirements. For instance, consultants you cannot say GH₵500,000 or scrap it altogether or reduce it.

“So, the power lies with our representatives in Parliament. So, when the drafts get to Parliament it will be debated, and then at the end of the day we believe we will have a law which will be robust and at the same time make Ghana competitive in terms of investment destination,” he said during a round-table discussion on ‘Doing Business in Ghana: A Legal Perspective.

It was organised by Veritas International Nominees and Trustees as part of its fifth-anniversary celebration.

The GIPC Act, 2013 (Act 865) requires foreign companies which seek to partner with local businesses to provide a capital requirement of US$200,000, while wholly foreign businesses which desire to operate are required to provide a minimum capital of US$500,000.

For foreign businesses which want to do business in the trading space, the capital requirement is pegged at US$1 million.

Exemptions

According to Mr Ashong-Lartey, some areas are exempted from the minimum capital requirements with the first one being manufacturing.

“So, if you are going into manufacturing, there are no minimum capital requirements. And the same applies to export trading. That is where you set up a company to buy locally produced things for exports,” he said.

COVID and investment

He said even amid COVID-19, there was a marginal increase in investments.

Alluding to figures from UNCTAD, he said Ghana recorded GH¢2.65 billion in 2020 and GH¢2.6billion in 2021.

"This year we are hopeful that we will do much better. The investments are coming.

"It's tough out there but the various measures we put in place over the years have helped us to withstand the shocks so, let's be hopeful," he said.

He added that Ghanaians are also investing and they are performing quite well.

New registrar

The Registrar of Companies at the ORC, Jemima Oware, in explaining the rationale for the establishment of the new entity said it was wholly focused on the registration and regulation of all types of businesses. It will also have an insolvency unit to be regulating insolvency practice.

She said there would also be an enforcement and sanctions division where the company inspectors would go out to the various companies to inspect books and enforce compliance with the Act.

“Now, it's being hived off the Registrar General's Department (RGD) which, as far back as I can remember, is apart from registering and regulating businesses, also does the registration of marriages, estates, registration of industrial property rights and professional bodies.

“We also register adopted children so it’s quite a lot of activities we do and so the committee of experts thought there should be a separate office solely focused and dedicated to companies to ensure that we give the clients the right meals to make them function better,” she said.

Mrs Oware said: “We are no more reporting to the Minister of Justice. The Attorney General will ensure that all legislation is laid through him. But we have a board now that oversees the operations of the office.”

“It is now a separate entity, financially autonomous so we will not be doing things that RGD used to do,” she said.

Doing business

Shedding light on the legal aspects of doing business in Ghana, the Supervising Director of Veritas, Lady-Ann Essuman, said it was important for businesses to show professionalism in their activities and also have legal recognition to promote the business on a larger scale, including internationally.

She said having a business also enabled one to contribute to economic growth.

"You're definitely going to be employing and pay taxes. I think the more important question is how to sustain the business. This will require putting it on a good corporate structure," she said.