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Exclude foreigners from retail business, Ghanaian lawmakers insist

There appears to be no reprieve for foreigners engaged in retail business, as the Parliament of Ghana is insisting on the enforcement of the legislation that reserves retail trade for locals.

The Majority Leader in Parliament, Mr. Osei Kyei-Bonsu commenting on the floor of Parliament about the recent face-off between Ghanaian Union of Traders Association (GUTA) members and Nigerian traders at Kumasi and parts of Accra, declared that the Ghanaian constitution was supreme over international conventions.

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“Mr. Speaker I have heard people say that Ghana has ratified conventions, but the conventions cannot supplant the constitution, as simple as that,” he said.

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The Majority Leader of Parliament argued that ECOWAS protocols provided for free movement of persons and goods within the sub-region and nothing more.

He further argued that the ban on foreigners from participating in retail business was not exclusive to Ghana, but it was the norm in Nigeria and some other countries in the sub-region.

‘It is so in Nigeria, it is so in Ghana, it is so in Cote d’Ivoire. So let nobody say that because we have ratified the ECOWAS conventions, we will allow citizens from other countries, including the sub-region and even elsewhere, Chinese, Turkish and so on to engage in the retail business, that’s not so,” he said.

Kyei-Bonsu insisted that Section 865 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) Law, which stipulates that any foreigner intending to establish business in Ghana must invest a minimum of $1million and employ at least 12 Ghanaian citizens, must be enforced.

He added that all foreigners must be properly documented and their business entities must be duly registered in order to legitimize their operations in the country.

The lawmaker said foreigners at the Suame Market operated illegally because most of them registered to trade in other goods, but they converted to spare parts business.

He further said that investigations from the Ghana Standard Authority revealed that many spare parts, equipment and drugs sold by the foreigners were sub-standard.

Another lawmaker from the opposition, Alhaji Inusa Fuseini, aligned himself with his colleague, saying that regardless of the fact that Ghana ratified ECOWAS protocol in order to access bigger markets in the continent, its local markets must be guarded from the incursion of foreigners.

He said state institutions, established to ensure compliance with the law, have failed, refused and neglected to enforce the law.

Contributing, Mr. Mahama Ayariga, another lawmaker from the opposition, tacitly endorsed the militancy of the local traders, saying that anywhere in the world, when the genuine economic interests of indigenes were threatened, certainly they would protest, agitate and fight back.

Ayariga accused some Ghanaians of complicity with foreigners by fronting and registering the businesses of foreigners in their names.

The debate was triggered by the comments of Mr. Collins Owusu Amankwah. He had called the attention of the House to the recent crisis at Kumasi, cautioning Ghanaian traders to refrain from wrongful acts.

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