Some Nigerian retailers who had their shops locked up by the Ghana Union of Traders, GUTA, have had them reopened after they provided legitimate documents allowing them to do business in the country.
The shops were locked up nearly six months ago at Tip Toe Lane at the Kwame Nkrumah Circle and Opera Square in Accra, when angry GUTA members protested against retail trade which is against Ghana’s laws.
The reopening exercise was carried out by the Ministry of Trade, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ghana Immigration Service and the leadership of GUTA.
In all, 21 of the nearly 600 foreign-owned shops were reopened on day one of the three-day exercise.
The exercise, which started at about 10:00am on Wednesday, saw officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, the Ghana Revenue Authority, the Ghana Immigration Service and leaders of the Ghana Union of Traders Association, overseeing the process of the reopening of the shops.
Per Section 27 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865, foreigners are barred from engaging in retail business in Ghana, as the space is solely reserved for citizens. For this reason, the Ghana Union of Traders Association in November and December last year locked up these foreign-owned shops engaged in retail in Accra and Kumasi.
A Committee was thus set up by President Akufo-Addo to find a lasting solution to the impasse. As part of its work, the foreigner retailers were asked to provide documentation legitimizing their operations in Ghana.
It however appears that most of the operators of these shops do not have permits. But for 21 of them who provided their documents, they had their shops reopened for them.
Per this outcome, it means that the GIPC law will be compromised to allow for foreign retailers with the right documentation to continue in businesses along their Ghanaian counterparts.
The Secretary to the Committee of Foreigners in Retail Trade in Ghana, Maxwell Apinkro, told Citi Business News this move has become necessary to sanitize Ghana’s retail space.
“Those who have met the requirement to trade legally will have their shops opened. But for those who have not met the requirements, the respective institutions will do the assessment and we will work with whatever the law says. So, as you can see, we are opening the shops so that we can assess the shop owners and their documents. This is because of some reports that their documents are in the shops. We will also help them to regularize so that there wouldn’t be any confusion,” he said.
Prior to the reopening, a notice was issued to alert the foreign retailers to be available for the exercise. The Greater Accra GUTA Chairman, Kojo Amoateng, told Citi Business News the process will be smooth once the foreign retailers avail themselves.
“We went for another meeting of which the technical sub-committee briefed the apex committee and the decision was taken that we would have to come back again and open the shop for those who will avail themselves for GRA to check their import duties and VAT. If you’re able to meet the requirements, then you are free to do business”.
The exercise requires the foreign retailers to provide resident permits and tax receipts over the years, which will be subjected to scrutiny by personnel from the Ghana Revenue Authority and the Ghana Immigration Service.
A foreign retailer,Ike Amugo, who resorted to hawking in the last six months, commended the government of Ghana for the move.
“I’m happy that today, the authorities have started opening our shops. We need peace to reign in any country we find ourselves. So, I thank the Ghana government for the steps they’ve taken now. I’m very glad to see this kind of system”.