A Trade Ministry Committee on foreign retail trades has clamped down on violators of trade laws in Kumasi.
In the exercise, a total of 92 shops belonging to foreign traders at the Suame Magazine artisanal hub who have violated these laws were closed down.
51 shops were closed on Tuesday and another 41 shops on Wednesday.
Nana Kwabena Peprah, a member of the Committee indicated that these foreign traders had failed to comply with the provisions of the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) Act which clearly spells out the rules governing trading by non-Ghanaians in the country.
“We have our investment laws in this country which is the GIPC law and it spells out how a foreigner can apply and be doing trading in Ghana and It also gives us how indigenes can do business in Ghana.
Businesses like Melcom and Max Marts are doing retail trading and are all complying with the investment laws so no one is closing their shops,” Nana Kwabena Peprah explained.
The GIPC ACT 128 on retail trade provides very specific requirements on foreign entities wanting to engage in business in the country.
The committee says the foreign traders found to have flouted the laws were given about 18 months to comply with the directives of the investments agreement or face the necessary sanctions.
“We have been here before and we did the assessment and checked their documents among other things and we had given them almost eighteen months to regularize but they have not done so. That is why the team is locking the shops,” Mr Peprah added.
After the taskforce lock up the shops, a notice is posted each shop asking them to regularise their businesses and to present their business operating documents to the Ministry of Trade and Industry for approval.
Mr Peprah said: “We lock and paste some notices as to where to go to regularize your business documents and do their trading. We are not saying they shouldn’t trade but they should do the right thing.”
Nigerian Traders Cry for help
Majority of the foreign traders in the Suame Magazine artisanal hub are Nigerians.
The leadership of the Nigeria Union of Traders Association believes that their members are being treated unfairly and the act is an indication that the government of Ghana does not want them in the country.
“I don’t even know the registration they are looking for because what happened yesterday [Monday] if that is what the government sent them to do then I am telling you that they have made it very clear that the government of Ghana don’t want us here.
He added that some of the shops in question were registered with the GIPC, the Registrar General’s Department, the Ghana Revenue Authority and were also tax compliant.
“When you are talking about registration, I can tell you that about five or six shops who have even register to the level of GIPC, paid all their taxes, had their shops locked,” he said.
He, however, admitted that some of its members have not renewed their permit because of some difficulties in renewing their resident permits.
“Since Last year November till now, we are finding it difficult to renew our residents permit.
I don’t know the reason because it is mainly against Nigerians. Whenever you send your passport to immigration for renewal, they will give you excuses and refuse you even after paying everything.”
Mr Obiora explained this situation has resulted in many of them being unable to renew their permits and wondered if it was a deliberate attempt by government to discourage them from running their businesses in the country.
The leadership of the Nigerian traders in Suame Magazine Industrial Hub especially, said that they have run out of options, and call on the Nigerian government to help them return to Nigerian should the impasse remain unresolved.
“We are just pleading with our government, instead of we being here and dying in silence, instead of that let our government come to our aid and if possible to evacuate us let us go back to Nigeria because it is very obvious that they don’t want us here”.
Meanwhile, the 5-day exercise which started on Monday will continue until Friday. It is targeted at foreign retail traders in the industrial enclave.