Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, the Majority Leader in Parliament, is calling on the Government to strictly implement and enforce the legislation that requires any foreigner who wants to do business in Ghana to invest a minimum of US$1 million and employ at least 12 Ghanaian citizens.
“When it comes to these matters the country should not compromise on them,” he asserted, in contribution to a statement on the floor of Parliament in Accra, on Thursday.
Many foreigners are engaged in the local retail trade, but Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu insisted that foreigners, especially those from the sub-region and elsewhere cannot be allowed to engage in the local retail trade.
According to him, though Ghana has ratified many conventions, these agreements cannot supplant the constitution of the country.
“Mr. Speaker, I have heard people say that Ghana has ratified conventions, yes we ratified conventions but the conventions cannot supplant our constitution, as simple as that”.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu’s contribution was in reaction to a statement by Mr Collins Owusu Amankwah, Member of Parliament (MP) for Manhyia North, on the involvement of foreigners in Ghana’s retail trade and its implications.
Recently, some Ghanaian traders in Suame, Kumasi locked up the shops of some Nigerians who they accused of engaging in local retail trade in violation of the stated provisions of the Ghana Investment Promotion Law (Act 865), which frowns on foreigners engaging in the retail business.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also argued that in the sub-region, the ECOWAS protocols provide for the free movement of goods and services, but when the goods arrive at any destination, the laws of the country provide that retail business should be in the hands of the citizens.
“It is so in Nigeria, it is so in Ghana, it is so in Cote d’Ivoire, so let nobody say that because we have ratified the ECOWAS conventions we allow citizens from other countries, including the sub-region and even elsewhere, Chinese, Turkish and so on to engage in the retail business, that’s not so.”
He said so far as the GIPC law was concerned, any foreigner who wants to do business in Ghana is required to invest a minimum of US$1 million and employ at least 12 Ghanaian citizens, adding that, when it comes to these matters the country should not compromise on them.
Mr. Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu also explained that foreigners who want do business in Ghana must regularize their stay and register the business they want to engage in.
He cited for example that in the recent Suame incident it came to the fore that many of the foreigners had registered businesses to deal with certain defined items but had reverted to dealing in the sale of spares parts.
He said when the Ghana Standards Authority was also invited to investigate the issue it came out that many of the spare parts, equipment, and medicines, which were being sold by these foreigners were sub-standard.
Mr. Amankwah in his remark called on all the parties involved in the recent disputes between Ghanaian traders and foreigners to exercise restraint in dealing with the matter and be circumspect in their utterances.
He said the parties must also be cautious in their actions and statement in order not to inflame passions which may have the potential to escalate the impasse.
“It may serve us well if we avoided stereotyping persons and groups with negativity and for that matter assume that all Nigerians are bad or that most of them are here to perpetrate fraudulent and criminal activities,” he said.
Mr. Amankwah also called on the security agencies to ensure that cases involving foreigners are thoroughly investigated so that the real culprit is dealt with according to the laws of the land.
He said in order to find a lasting solution to the Suame impasse, the security agencies must engage the local traders in the area to minimize the tension.
He also called on the foreign citizens in Ghana to abide by the laws of the country and refrain from engaging in illegal activities.