President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), Dr Joseph Obeng, has expressed the need for government to be transparent on the proposed import restriction bill by parliament.
According to him, the business community will be heavily impacted by such a move, hence, the need to bring some form of transparency into the bill proposed.
“We have said that we have to know the timeline involved in this, know some information, we have to be provided data and the roadmaps which haven’t come. It shouldn’t be said that they’re going to hand over this permit to us in perpetuity and that whether there’s solution or not, that’s where their interest is. What we want to do is to journey along with the timelines… So, we need the data, and we need comprehensive information.”Dr Joseph Obeng
Furthermore, Dr Obeng highlighted that government must set out some guidelines, especially with the rules of engagement for the factories who are going to be protected. He stated that there shouldn’t be room for “monopolistic tendencies” should the bill be passed.
When this happens, he explained that when traders are restricted from importing certain goods and local manufacturers refuse to sell to people outside their own distributors and agents, it will pose a threat to traders.
“… It means that our business is going to be in skewed in favor of somebody who is not even prepared to supply to us.”Dr Joseph Obeng
Reacting to the petition signed by GUTA and five other businesses on the need for parliament not to pass the import restriction bill, Dr Obeng stated that the trading community actually is cooperating with government and understands the need to industrialize.
As such, he explained that GUTA will be the first to understand the importance of the bill because its members do travel to other destinations where they have made conscious efforts to add value to their raw materials to “enhance their productions, where through their self-sufficiency and even surplus, they go to those corridors to buy the goods”.
Nonetheless,he contended that the association has issues with the structuring of the L.I which backs the restriction bill.
“We’ve put the aim behind and just putting the restriction ahead and that’s why we are calling that we are the people who consume all the goods that are manufactured in the country, and the shortfall is what we bring from outside. So, it’s very important that our views are also taken into consideration in situations like this.
“Manufacturing is not complete unless it reaches the final consumer, and we serve as that vehicle. So, we are as equally important as the manufacturers themselves, and it is very important that whatever thing that we do, we do not do it in a manner that will also destroy the distribution sector of the economy.”Dr Joseph Obeng
Impact of 24-hour economy on businesses
Touching on the 24-hour economy proposed by John Mahama, Dr Obeng confirmed that the business and the trading community will benefit from the policy because their activity is not timebound.
He noted that businesses desire an opportunity to move in to maximize their potential.
“… We can only support this laudable idea and make it work because the trading is not timebound and that if we have space and time, and the necessary infrastructure is provided for us in terms of security it can be achieved… So, let’s provide the necessary infrastructure. In the case of manufacturing sector, it can thrive when there are incentives for them, where the taxes that they pay are lessened for them, so that they can be competitive.”Dr Joseph Obeng
Moreover, Dr Obeng contended that if produce from manufacturers is not competitive, they cannot even offload it to the consumers in Ghana, let alone exporting it. When this happens, he expressed that it’ll defeat the purpose of a night shift, and a 24-hour economy at large.
As such, he emphasized that creating an enabling environment is also very important in realizing the 24-hour economy.
“… So, yes, we have to do it, look it through, deliberate efforts to create the night market and as I’ve already said, we can also use legislature to move what creates nuisance in the mornings or afternoons to distract smooth businesses into the night. By legislature, we can offload containers, cargos in the night, and foodstuff especially in the central business district where there’s a lot of congestion…”Dr Joseph Obeng