12th July, 2012
The Ghanaian Government has refuted allegations that Nigerian and ECOWAS citizens in Ghana are expected to pay 300,000 dollars and employ 10 Ghanaians before setting up businesses in the country, Mrs Irene Maamah, Deputy Head of Mission in the Ghana High Commission said in Abuja on Wednesday.
The statement was a clarification from Ghana’s Ministry of Trade and Investment.
The statement said the allegation was a misunderstanding of the exercise carried out by the Inter-Agency Task Force to ensure that foreign traders complied with the laws of Ghana.
“The attention of the ministry has been drawn to a number of statements in the public domain and in the media. That shows a basic misunderstanding of the exercise that is currently being undertaken by the Inter-Agency Task Force to ensure that foreign traders comply with the laws of Ghana. ”
It noted that the task force was to ensure that foreign traders complied with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act.
The statement said that the GIPC Act of 1994, stipulates that foreign traders were expected to invest 300,000 dollars in trading activities, employ at least 10 Ghanaians and operate in any commercial area that is not a market.
It stated that the Act did not prevent foreigners from trading in Ghana but allowed foreigners to trade on a large-scale while petty trading was reserved for Ghanaians.
The statement noted that this was to ensure that Ghanaian consumers were provided with wider product choices.
The statement also stated that exceptions were made to ECOWAS citizens in recognition of the ECOWAS Protocol on the right of residence and establishment.
It added that ECOWAS citizens were expected to comply with the same conditions that Ghanaian citizens who started businesses complied with.
“This means that they are required to register businesses with the Registrar-General’s Department, the Ghana Revenue Authority and pay taxes in the same way Ghanaians are expected to do.
“And because they are not our nationals, they are expected to properly apply for residential status in Ghana. ”
The statement noted that some of the shops being locked by Inter-Agency Task Force had no form of business registration or complied with the GIPC Act.
It added that the exercise was “to bring sanity into the operations of foreign traders’ activities in Ghana.
“There have been many more foreign traders who have established in Ghana and though a good number of them have made the effort to comply with the GIPC Act, there are a number of them who have not done so.
“In the last two days as 50 shops within Mokola have been locked, at least half of them have no form of business registration, let alone comply with the GIPC Act. ”
The statement said that the exercise had been suspended for one month in respect to requests by ECOWAS citizens to relocate to commercial areas.
It emphasised that during this period, persons affected would be sensitised on the need to operate legally and meet the requirements of the Act.
The statement added that traders would be assisted in legalising their business operations.
It also noted that the task force had not arrested any foreign trader, confiscated any goods or taken any action to deport any foreign trader.