Member of parliament for Cape Coast South, Kweku Ricketts-Hagan, has expressed concern over the proposed L.I by the trade minister, KT Hammond, to restrict some imports into the country, revealing that the structure of the L.I grants him excessive power.
According to him, the power the L.I affords the trades minister to grant permit to restrict importation of certain products into the country will be abused.
He revealed that although the majority in parliament calls it an import permit, in reality, it is an import license, which could potentially create problems of “corruption, kalabule, coup d’etats, all as a result of these things”.
“The problem is not with the policy, but it’s the way the L.I itself is structured, that gives so much powers to the minister in what we believe will end up being abused. We know that as a country we import too much…”Kweku Ricketts-Hagan
Elaborating on the minority’s concerns with the proposed L.I, Mr Ricketts-Hagan indicated that the move will also pave way for restricted products to be illegally funneled into the country through Togo and other places by road. With this, he explained that problems are likely to also crop up at the country’s borders where a lot of corruption will take place.
“Why do you want to create problems with the already burdensome economy that we have at the moment and that is where the issue is. He’s not only having the power to give the permit, but he’s also the one that if they refuse you permit, you will have to petition to, and he has the discretion to allow you or not.
“We are not talking about KT Hammond, if this was to become a regulation or law in this country, future trade ministers, and we don’t know which trade minister we are going to get who will decide to take things in his own hands and there’s going to be cronyism…Kweku Ricketts-Hagan
Potential impact of passing L.I on restriction of imports
Furthermore, Mr Ricketts-Hagan admitted that although it actually “doesn’t make sense that there are certain things” which are still being imported into the country, due diligence must be undertaken to avert challenges along the path of implementation.
He noted that before government makes the decision of restricting importation or banning these products, it has to make sure that Ghanaians are going to be self-sufficient, a phenomenon which is not the situation at the moment.
“The issue here is about whether we should go for a ban or restriction as they are calling it now when we have not made adequate provision in terms of import substitution. If you are not going to bring something into your country and there’s the demand for it, is there a vehicle for producing these things?”Kweku Ricketts-Hagan
Meanwhile, the Cape Coast South legislator emphasized that going ahead with the current form and state of the L.I restricting importation of certain category of products into the country is going to create chaos. Among other things, he insisted that artificial shortage is bound to be created and subsequently drive prices up.
“Getting to Christmas, it’s even a bad timing to contemplate some of these things. If you want to do this, maybe look at the following year, but even that, a lot of work needs to be done…”Kweku Ricketts-Hagan