Members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) have closed their shops in Accra to protest what they describe as unfavourable government policies.
The protest which is scheduled to go on in both Accra and Kumasi will last for three days.
Citi News‘ Pearl Akanya Ofori who visited the Centarl Business Center in Accra said, ”…the places I have visited around UTC, Makola Shopping Mall, Rawlings Park all in Accra have their shops closed; all the shops there were closed, you will only see some of the traders infront of the shops just chatting.”
”When I got here at around 7:15am i got the impression that maybe they might open their shops later, but the traders i met say they are prepared to follow the directive from GUTA,” she added.
Speaking on the Citi Breakfast Show, Pearl noted that she could only count just a handful of shops that had opened.
”One of the women who owned a shop said she had heard the directive from GUTA, but she is indifferent; others also said they have not heard the directive from GUTA,”’she added.
Pearl further explained that from what see observed on the ground, the closure can be described as more patronised.
She also added that the police are present to provide security for shop owners who want to open their shops.
The agitation, according to the association, was a first sign of caution to the government to act swiftly to reverse the policies or continue to face the wrath of its members.
Addressing a press conference in Accra on Monday, the President of GUTA, Mr George Kweku Ofori, said government policies, such as a special levy of three per cent on imports, the increase in the Value Added Tax (VAT) by 2.5 per cent, coupled with the depreciation of the cedi and illegal charges at the ports, were inimical to the operations of traders.
GUTA in a press relese also alleged that the Inter Agency Task Force set up by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to monitor and enforce compliance with the GIPC Law had not made any impact.
As a result, it said, “today the repercussion is seen in the form of the numerous economic crises in the country, that is, making Ghana a dumping ground for shoddy foreign goods and affecting the growth and development of our local industries which are already saddled with many challenges”.
In the event that the government failed to act on its demands, the association said it would advise itself but assured the public that it had many plans in place, waiting to unfold.
It also cautioned members to strictly adhere to the association’s directives until further notice, adding that the rest of the regions would join in the strike in the course of the week.
Meanwhile, the Ghana Police Service in a communique is assuring the general public, especially traders that ”the Police has put measures in place to protect all traders who intend to open their shops and stores”.
According to the police, it will deploy men ”heavily” in Accra, Kumasi and other cities to maintain law and order and protect lives and property of the citizenry especially those who intend to do business.
The police however, warned GUTA to go about their action in peace and not to breach it.
By: Evans Effah/citifmonline.com/with files from Graphic/Ghana