One of the recent dialogue between GIPC and GUTA members
One of the recent dialogue between GIPC and GUTA members

The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) is calling on the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) to live up to its statutory mandate of cleaning the retail market off foreigners who are doing illegitimate business in the country.

According to an executive member of GUTA, Benjamin Yeboah, foreigners are having unfettered access to the retail market exclusively reserved for Ghanaians per GIPC Act 865 because the GIPC is not living up to its mandate of identifying and flushing them out.

“A foreign company that decides to set up a business in Ghana should have a minimum capital base in terms of equity or cash of US$ 1 million and it is also required to employ over 20 locals. That entity per the GIPC Act is not allowed to operate in some markets designated for Ghanaians”,   he told BusinessWeek in an interview.

But he noted the law is being flouted with impunity as foreigners have invaded the retail market over the years and taking Ghanaians out of business with little commitment from the state to address the situation.

Mr Yeboah added that even though traders from Nigeria and other citizens from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are permitted under a treaty to come and do business in the country within 90 days and go back to their countries, they mostly overstay to compete with the locals.

He recalled how his outfit raised the same concern in February last year which led to some of the foreigners fleeing the country even though others still stayed behind to ply their illegitimate trade.

He added that even though some of these foreign companies register for specific businesses with the Registrar General’s Department and the GIPC as stipulated by Act 865, they commence trade in the retail market on the blindside of the regulatory agencies

“GIPC is mandated by law to monitor and make sure that those who come to register with them are adhering to what they said they were coming to do. So when they see that the laws are still not applied to the latter and nothing is being done, they are encouraged to continue with their illegal activities.” he lamented.

He describes the situation as dangerous because there is no available data that captures the operation of these foreigners who are into every retail business like the sale of clothing, electrical appliances, and consumables among others.  He fears other sectors of the economy may suffer foreign invasion and the country’s sovereignty will be eventually affected if the state does not exercise its political will to arrest the illegality.

In a related development, the Greater Accra unit of GUTA last week threatened to advise its members not to file their tax returns to the state if the situation is not brought under control.

By: Romeo Adzah