The Minister-designate for Trade and Industry Ministry, Alan John Kyerematen has debunked the assertion that enforcement of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) act banning foreigners from trading in the retail trade is targeted at certain nations within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) sub-region.
According to him, enforcement of GIPC laws is to protect the interest and growth of indigenous Ghanaian businesses.
Responding to questions at the Appointments Committee of Parliament, Alan Kyerementen said all foreign nationals within Ghana are obliged to respect the country’s law on retail trading activities as enshrined in the act.
“We cannot have a situation in our country where Ghanaians are compelled by these regulatory authorities to abide by these laws and then we turn around to ignore when these same rules are being violated by foreigners,” the former trade advisor at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) emphasised.
“I think it is important for us also to make note of the fact that it is not about targeting at specific nationals particularly in West Africa, we are talking about foreigners in retail trade,” Ghana’s former Ambassador to the United States told the Appointments Committee of Parliament.
Section 27 (1) of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act, 2013 (Act 865) prohibits foreigners from engaging in retail trade.
Despite the law banning foreigners from engaging in retail trading in the country, some foreign nationals continue to engage in such activities in breach of the act.
This development and lack of proper enforcement by regulatory agencies have led some Ghanaian retailers in some parts of the country in recent times to have confrontations with foreign traders who engaged in retail trading.
But responding to a question by Member of Parliament for the Odododiodio Constituency, Edwin Nii Lantey Vandapuye, the Minister-designate for Trade and Industry blamed the development on the lack of enforcement of the GIPC laws by the agencies mandated to do so, resulting in the tension between Ghanaians and some foreign traders.
Alan Kyerementen said foreigners who want to engage in retail trade must follow the laid down rules as stipulated by law.
He was also unhappy with the abuse of some regulations such as the abuse of immigration laws, Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) regulations and issues concerning business operating license by some of these foreign traders.
To avoid future disturbances and further breaches of the GIPC act and other regulations, Alan Kyeremanten revealed that several consultations have been done between countries at the level of ECOWAS for foreign nationals to respect the country’s laws on retail trading.
Mr Kyeremanten added that to maintain the long-standing friendship and economic engagements among ECOWAS countries, they have agreed to consult and engage each other when such laws are flouted by foreign nationals rather than taking punitive actions against such nationals.