George Kweku Ofori, President of GUTA
The Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) has accused the Task Force set up by the Ministry of Trade and Industry to clamp down on non-Ghanaians engaged in petty trading of compromising their stance.
This follows the Task Force's decision to call off its planned swoop at the markets yesterday to evict those flouting the directive.
The exercise was planned to be implemented after a moratorium granted non-Ghanaians by the Ministry from February 20 to June 21, 2012 to comply with the laws elapsed over the weekend.
When the postponement was conveyed to the leadership of GUTA who were in the markets awaiting the arrival of the Task Force, they immediately stormed the Trade Ministry to express their frustration at the turn of events.
Earlier, members of the Task Force who had converged at the Ministry’s Conference room after hours of deliberations sent a message to the team of media personnel who had gathered since 7 am that the planned swoop had been postponed.
They also refused to meet the media to explain the reasons behind the decision and rather asked Nana Akrasi Sarpong, Director of Communications at the Ministry to talk to the media personnel.
Mr. Sarpong told the press that he was not a member of the Task Force and therefore was not privy to the discussions which had been held.
He said he was performing his role as the Communications Director to explain why the exercise had been called off, contending that the Task Force decided to postpone the exercise based on information gathering from a survey conducted by the national security, Monday morning.
He said the security information indicated that most of the shops being operated by non-Ghanaians did not opened on Monday morning.
He stated that the Task Force learnt that some of the foreigners had engaged Ghanaians to front for them at the various shops in the markets.
Nana Sarpong said under such circumstance, the Task Force could not arbitrarily close down such shops since they did not have any warrant from a court of law.
He pointed out that the Task Force wanted to avoid the perception that “Ghanaians are vilifying foreigners engaged in businesses in Ghana.”
Nana Sarpong said such a picture would send wrong signals to investors and create a bad impression of Ghana’s business environment.
Refuting the reasons put out by the Task Force, Daniel Aggrey, Vice President of GUTA who was part of the leadership who stormed the ministry, said, members of the Task Force were beginning to develop “cold feet” over the exercise because they might have been compromised by the foreigners engaged in those business.
He said as at the time the Task Force was refusing to implement the orders with the excuse that those shops had not opened, most of them were doing business.
Mr. Aggrey said, GUTA members knew all the foreigners engaged in the petty trading, therefore, if the Task Force would rely on their information, GUTA would lead them to the shops one by one.
He said the explanation that the Task Force was powerless because some Ghanaians were fronting for the foreigners, was untenable because there was a law against such business operations.
Mr. Aggrey said GUTA members would advise themselves if matters continued like it was unfolding, since the Task Force was engaged in a mischief.
Madam Hannah Tetteh, Minister of Trade and Industry announced at a meet-the-press in Accra on Monday, June 11, 2012 that a Task Force would from yesterday move into markets to close down stores of any foreigner engaged in retail and petty trading.
The Minister had said that petty trading and retail trading were only reserved for Ghanaians according to section 18 of the Ghana Investment Promotion Council Act 1994 (Act 478).