Clement Boateng, acting vice president of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, has said that he does not see any big deal in the Ghanaian authorities slamming $1 million trading permit on Nigerians.
The law, when it was passed in 1994, stipulated a $200, 000 levy on foreigners trading in Ghana, was recently reviewed upwards to the current charge recently.
But, Boateng, in an interview he granted Punch, said he does not see any issue there that should bother Nigerian traders or the government.
He inferred that its eventual implementation was coming as a relief to Ghanaian traders, who before now, had been urging the authorities to enforce it.
He said: “I don’t see any controversy surrounding this law (Ghana Investment Promotion Council Act) which was passed by our (Ghanaian) parliament in 1994. It used to be $200,000, then the law was reviewed and it came to $1m, which you have to provide in cash or in equity if you want to enter the retail business.
“What is happening is, over the years, those who are supposed to enforce the law, that is, the GIPC (Act), have relaxed and they have allowed foreigners to flout the law with impunity.
-No big deal 1-
“The Ghana Union of Traders Association has, over the years, complained to the authorities to try as much as possible to enforce the law, so that they can sanitise the retail industry”.
Further justifying his position on the matter, he said many other foreigners had already complied with the law, and cited one unnamed Nigerian whom he said had paid up, adding:
We have a lot of foreigners who have complied with this law. There is even one Nigerian man who deals in lights; he has complied with the law and we don’t have any problem with him.
“But we cannot stand by while the foreigners flout this law with impunity when they have not satisfied the law by providing the $1m either in cash or in equity and still continue to do the retail business to the detriment of the indigenes. We cannot allow this to continue”
In response to another question, he said not even the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocol, would make Ghana acquiesce on implementing the law to the latter:
“The ECOWAS Protocol does not supersede any country’s sovereign laws and that is all the more reason why Nigeria found it necessary to close its borders without even giving prior notice to the other members because Nigeria found it necessary to protect its local industry.
-No big deal 2-
“And up till now, it has not found it expedient to open the borders and nobody has complained. So, why is it that Ghana is enforcing its laws and Nigeria is complaining?
“All foreigners who have not satisfied the requirement of the law are being asked to provide their documents for the authorities to scrutinise. If you provide your documents and they (Ghanaian authorities) scrutinise them and see that you have complied with the rules and regulations of the law, they allow you to operate your business.
“If you don’t comply with the rules and regulations of the law, your shop must be closed and that is exactly what the task force is doing”, he said.
Boateng countered the suggestion of the interviewer that the Nigerian government may have reached an agreement with the Ghana authorities on the matter over a year ago saying:
-No big deal 3-
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“What agreement? As far as I’m concerned, there has never been any agreement. When the (Nigerian) borders were closed and our foreign minister came to Nigeria to see the authorities there, they said the Ghanaian authorities should provide documentation of goods that were locked up at the borders.
“The Ghanaian authorities came back and provided them with the documents and they all agreed that there was going to be a passage for goods that had been locked at the borders to either enter or exit Nigeria.
“Since those documents were brought to the Nigerian authorities, what have they done about it? They (Nigerian authorities) are protecting their interests, so Ghana is also protecting its interests.
“What is the big deal about it? There has not been any compromise; there has not been any agreement, as far as we are concerned”, he maintained.
The Eagle, based on the importance of this issue would like to hear your opinion: What is your take?