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Breaching Ghana laws not part of ECOWAS treaty' – PEF on non-citizens retailing

The Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) has called on foreigners in Ghana to respect local laws on business establishment and trade.

CEO of PEF, Nana Osei Bonsu, said it was unfortunate that some foreign nationals, particularly those from the West African sub-region cite the ECOWAS treaty on free movement of goods and people as justification for breaching Ghana’s regulation on trading.

“This open trading is to allow everybody to meet the requirements of the respective countries to do the trading. I don’t see anything in the ECOWAS treaty that once we sign on this treaty, there are no laws in the respective countries.

“It didn’t say that. It says you can have free movement of goods and people but once you get to the country, if you need a drivers license to drive and you don’t have it you got to be arrested,” he said Thursday.

Nana Osei Bonsu made the comments on the business edition of PM Express following renewed agitation by Ghanaians business owners in Suame, a suburb of Kumasi, against Nigerian retailers.

Shops belonging to Nigerian traders were shut down by Ghanaians who vowed to evict foreigners from the market.
The Suame traders said their call is not to intimidate foreigners trading in the country but rather to encourage authorities to implement the statutory laws in the sector without fear or favour.
Ghana’s law does not allow non-Ghanaians or non-citizens to operate in that market of sale of goods and provision of services in the market, petty trading, hawking, taxi services, operation of beauty salons and barbering shops.

The Ghana Investment Promotion Act (2013) states the following:
A person who is not a citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by citizen shall not invest or participate in—

a. 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;
b. the operation of taxi or car hire service in an enterprise that has a fleet of less than twenty-five vehicles;

c. the operation of a beauty salon or a barber shop; d. the printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of telecommunication services; e. the production of exercise books and other basic stationery;

f. the retail of finished pharmaceutical products;

g. the production, supply and retail of sachet water; and

h. all aspects of pool betting business and lotteries, except football pool.

However, a non-citizen may participate in these markets in the case of a joint enterprise with a partner who is a citizen, invests a foreign capital of not less than $200,000 in cash or capital goods relevant to the investment or a combination of both by way of equity participation and the partner who is a citizen does not have less than 10% equity participation in the joint enterprise.

The Private Enterprise Federation CEO has called on state authorities to enforce the law to the letter and prevent the long-standing feud between Nigerian and Ghanaian traders from recurring.

Richard Ampaabeng, an International trade consultant, who also spoke on the current affairs programme on Thursday, had the government enforced the GIPC Act, the recurrent problems would have been solved.

“Where we are now, which is causing friction, we should have completed a long time ago, he said.

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