Saturday, 7 December 2019

Over 600 retail shops of foreigners remain closed

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Adnan Adams Mohammed

Over six hundred (600) retail shops of Nigerians and other nationals within the Kwame Nkrumah Circle remain closed days after the President Nana Addo Dankwa called for restrains and illegal acts of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA).

GUTA, in its recent efforts to get the retailers out of retailing business reserved for Ghanaian nationals according to the Ghana Investment Promotion Center’s (GIPC) Act2013 (Act 865), locked the over 600 shops belonging to foreigners within the Circle business district. But, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo during his tour of the Greater Accra Region days after the incident advised GUTA not to take the law into their own hands although they have a genuine concern.

The local traders are upset that the government is not implementing the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act 865 which restrains foreigners from engaging in retail business.GUTA has been pursuing government to get the foreigners out of the retail business for almost a decade now, but the foreigners’ presence in the retail space is rather growing rapidly in recent times.

However, GUTA has registered displeasure at the President for his comment during his tour. “The President’s words ought to reflect his actions, and that action is by allowing law enforcement agencies deal with the foreign retailers”, Public Relation Officer for GUTA, Albert Mensah fumed.

“We are disappointed in President Akufo-Addo because this is not the first time we are meeting with him over this same issue.

“At a point, the president instructed the Trade Minister Hon. Alan Kyeremateng to set up a compliance team to spearhead the move in ensuring that the GIPC Act is enforced, but what has happened?,” he questioned 

He reiterated the association’s call on government to empower the security agencies in applying the GIPC Act, which seeks to protect retail business solely for Ghanaians.

Despite President Nana Akufo-Addo’s admittance that GUTA has a genuine concern, he said “it is the State that interprets how the laws should be applied” 

“People cannot take the law into their own hands and purportedly seek to enforce it. If we tread on that line, Ghana will become ungovernable,” he indicated. 

Before the President’s plea, GUTA said its members will replicate Monday’s action nationwide if the government fails to heed to their calls.

The law, in section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act, states that any person who is not a citizen or an enterprise that is not wholly-owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.

But the government has not been enforcing the law and instead leans towards diplomacy in handling the resulting tensions.

Tensions have led to local traders locking up shops of foreign traders among other clashes.

The most intense tensions have been at the Opera Square Market, where foreign traders’ shops have been locked up on multiple occasions.

Other attempts at the enforcement of the law sparked confusion in Suame Magazine in Kumasi leading to the shops of some Nigerian traders being ransacked with threats of further violence.