GUTA kicks against review of GIPC law
The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has kicked against what it says are attempts by the Speaker of Parliament to get Parliament to review some provisions of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre’s (GIPC) law to allow foreigners into the country’s retail trade space.
According to the group, the Speaker ought to have first engaged the local traders to understand how they operated under the GIPC Act, 865 of 2013 before making commitments to the Nigerian Parliament on the need for Ghana to reconsider the $1 million minimum capital requirement for trading enterprises by foreigners.
Addressing the Nigerian Parliament on July 8, 2021, the Speaker, Mr Alban Bagbin, pointed out a communique of May 31, 2021 between the two parliaments about the reconsideration of the minimum capital requirements contained in section 28 (2) of the law to facilitate the regularisation of the businesses of affected Nigerians.
That, the Speaker said, would be facilitated by the Ghana-Nigeria Friendship Act of which a seven-member committee of Parliament had been put together to review the relationship between the two countries.
Furthermore, he explained that would help in the establishment of the proposed Ghana –Nigeria Business Council intended to provide legal and institutional framework to sustain the continued friendship and business interest of the people of the two countries.
But, the leadership of GUTA at a press conference in Accra yesterday argued that the laws governing the country’s retail sector strategically reserved retail trade for indigenes as a way to prevent unemployment, the dumping of goods and the promotion of industrialisation.
The President of GUTA, Mr Joseph Obeng, was of the view that in spite of the continuous calls for a review of the law by some groupings as a result of the ECOWAS protocol and the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement (AfCFTA), the rules of origin permit the trading in the goods and services produced in respective countries.
Mr Obeng wondered why Nigeria had been singled out when the same country had closed its borders to neighbouring countries as a protectionist measure.
“We find it difficult to understand any leader of a sub-regional bloc who cannot draw the lines between what is permissible in trading under respective sovereign laws and the international treaties that have been ratified as member states,” Mr Obeng said.
He pointed out that while GUTA intended not to prevent any African from trading freely in goods and services that were not produced in member states, the association would rather wish that the government would provide full exemptions from the GIPC Act for Ghanaians trading in locally manufactured goods as a way of bringing finality to the long-standing trade dispute.
“The principal objectives of the ECOWAS protocols and the AfCTA are to help member states to industrialise as well as enhance sustainability,” Mr Obeng pointed out, warning that the association would not allow any foreigner who dealt in impermissible goods under the protocols to trade locally, unless they duly complied with the GIPC Act as stipulated in Act 865.
The GIPC law, Mr Obeng suggested, had helped pull breaks on the massive infiltration by foreigners in the retail trade space, and opening it further would create excessive importation which could result in an imbalance of trade.
He emphasised that high increment in freight charges, which had been occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic coupled with prolonged shipment of goods and increases in value added tax rates, were already taking a toll on local businesses; thus, a review of the provision on retail trade would disadvantage local businesses.