The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has given the government a week to start enforcing laws that bar foreigners from retail trade “to the letter.”
GUTA in a statement released on Monday said its members shall advise themselves if this demand is not met.
“…if do not see concrete action by the authorities to decisively deal with the situation, we shall advice ourselves on the next line of action, which will be staged nationwide, and will damn the consequence, especially if security agencies are used as state machinery to suppress us.”
Section 27 (1) of the GIPC Act of states that any person who is not a citizen or an enterprise that is not wholly-owned by a citizen shall not invest or participate in the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place.
But the government has shied away from enforcing the law opting instead for diplomacy in handling the resulting tensions.
Tensions have manifested in local traders locking up shops of foreign traders among other clashes.
Police have normally stepped in to calm tensions and protect foreign traders.
GUTA said this “final warning” to the state was because the current tensions are “creating serious insecurity in the country.”
“Laws are made primarily to ensure orderliness, peace and security. Failure to enforce law results to the contrary. So the failure to protect the constitution and sovereign laws of Ghana by the very people who have sworn to protect the country, in itself, is a recipe for insecurity.”
“In view of this, we hereby issue ultimatum of one week to the government, to ensure that all state institutions responsible for the enforcement of our laws on retail trade by foreigners in the country are implemented to the letter as it is done in all sovereign states to bring peace and its attendant security.
Find below the full statement
PRESS STATEMENT ON ILLEGAL FOREIGN RETAIL TRADE IN GHANA ISSUED BY GUTA ON MONDAY, 18TH NOVEMBER, 2019
Fellow Traders, Members of the Press, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It has been a hard road GUTA has travelled for about twenty years now. It has just been by the grace of God that some of us are still in business. It is, therefore, in order for us to offer thanks to the Almighty God.
It is highly impossible for us to sit and look on helplessly while foreigners invade our territory when our past wise leaders in their own wisdom believed that it was not only important but also necessary to reserve an area of the economy for the indigenes and enacted a law to that effect to protect the area and avoid any rift that may breach peace and security in the country.
We, therefore, find it very necessary to assembly here this morning and issue a final warning to the authorities, especially, the state institutions whose responsibilities it is to ensure compliance with the laws of this country in relation to the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 2013 (Act 865) , of the dire consequence of their behavior to the future of Ghana.
Indeed, this attitude of the state institutions and the silence of the government on the matter is creating serious insecurity in the country. Laws are made primarily to ensure orderliness, peace and security. Failure to enforce law results to the contrary. So the failure to protect the constitution and sovereign laws of Ghana by the very people who have sworn to protect the country, in itself, is a recipe for insecurity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the total failure of the relevant stakeholder state institutions to enforce the GIPC Act 865 relating to retail trade by foreigners in the country has created unbearable situation that can easily cause upheaval and possible eruption in the country.
Members of the trading community, especially, GUTA noticed this and called the attention of the state authorities to the adverse effect of the failure to ensure compliance of the law on the citizens, as well as the economy. GUTA, therefore, petitioned the necessary state institutions including the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Office of the President, GIPC, Office of the Council of State, Parliament etc. Not even the formation of the various Inter Agency Task Force by the government has succeeded in dealing decisively with this menace. This has caused untold hardship and frustrations to a saturation point on Ghanaians whose reserved area is being taken over by recalcitrant foreigners in the country.
Having exhausted all the possible avenues for negotiation with the state actors, we decided as ‘’citizens and not spectators’’ who are being seriously affected by the weaknesses / inefficiencies of the state institutions to take the bull by the horns, to enforce the law ourselves since the state institutions responsible have failed to act. The last time some foreigners’ shops were closed is about four months now. Three months ultimatum was given to them to leave the illegal retail trade. The three months has since elapsed and here we are still saddled with the foreigners in the retail trade.
Each time we embarked on an action to enforce the law, state authorities plead with us to stop so that they would carry it out, but eventually go back to sleep on the job. We are now at our wits end and can no longer endure suffering as slaves in our own country while foreigners flout our law with impunity. This explains the quite recent closure of illegal foreign retail shops in some parts of Asante and Greater Accra Regions.
Thanks for the professional manner in which the regional commands of the Ghana Police Service of the two regions handled the situation. If they have used the slightest force to suppress our genuine course, the situation would have been very disastrous because we are more than prepared to go any length in defense of the territory reserve for us by law and hold the state institution responsible, for failing to execute the duties for which they were established and allowing foreigners to disobey our laws.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for the benefit of all objective observers, right thinking and well-meaning Ghanaians and Foreigners, especially those who see reasons with us and added their voice to the call for the state institutions to act, we have decided to reopen the closed shops for the recalcitrant foreigners to clear their goods immediately and leave there in full compliance with the law or face the dire consequence.
In view of this, we hereby issue ultimatum of one week to the government, to ensure that all state institutions responsible for the enforcement of our laws on retail trade by foreigners in the country are implemented to the letter as it is done in all sovereign states to bring peace and its attendant security.
However, if do not see concrete action by the authorities to decisively deal with the situation, we shall advice ourselves on the next line of action, which will be staged nationwide, and will damn the consequence, especially if security agencies are used as state machinery to suppress us. Putting unnecessary pressure on the police service and over burdening them cannot be the solution to this impasse created by the failure to enforce the law on foreign retail trade in Ghana. Maintenance of law and order in this regard lies in the enforcement of the GIPC law by the state institutions responsible for that but not in unleashing of police officers on genuine aggrieved people, which can only exacerbate the situation and cause unnecessary clash between the people and the police. This can also widen the gauge between the police and the public who are suppose to be good partners in ensuring law and order.
‘’Enough is enough’’. This is our message and we believe that it will not fall on deaf ears if, indeed, we have listening authorities who think of the well-being of the citizens of Ghana.