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Ghanaians fronting for foreigners in retail trade.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, has accused some Ghanaians of being complicit in foreigners disrespecting laws that bar them from engaging in retail trade in the country.

According to the Majority Leader, but for the complicity of some Ghanaians, these foreigners may not be able to flout the very laws that protect the nation they so wish to do business in.

He lamented that despite the provisions of the Ghana Investment Promotion Law (Act 865) preventing foreigners from engaging in retail business, some Ghanaians aid them to have their way.

He cited that you could see a retail shop being managed by a foreigner, but if you went to ask, the response would be that they were doing so for and on behalf of a Ghanaian.

The Minister for Parliamentary Affairs was commenting on a statement made by the MP for Manhyia North, Collins Owusu Amankwah, on the involvement of foreigners in Ghana's retail trade, its implications and critical issues.

The Manhyia North MP's statement follows recent clashes between some traders in Kumasi and Nigerians over what the Ghanaians termed as foreigners taking over their businesses.

Referring to what happened in his constituency, Suame, Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said details after the Suame Magazine incident brought to the fore that many of the foreigners had registered businesses to deal with certain defined items, but were rather dealing in the sale of spare parts.

He said: 'Two prominent citizens from some countries which registered to deal in hospital equipment are using the same number and registered certificate to deal in spare parts. Who would accept that?

'Mr Speaker, that is fraudulent. And then when the Ghana Standards Authority was called into the picture, it came again to the fore that many of the spare parts and the equipment that are being sold by foreign nationals are substandard. Drugs that are being sold are substandard. Why do we allow these things?' he quizzed, and called on the law enforcement agencies to up their game.

'Mr Speaker, but we must also concede the complicity of some Ghanaians when it comes to dealing with these matters. We have a law in this country that foreigners, for instance, should not engage in sawmilling, but go to the various places in this country, we have foreigners who are doing that. About 90% of all the sawmills in this country are owned by foreigners.

'The registration of these companies has been in the name of Ghanaians. That is what it is. So, we have been very complacent. Foreigners are not supposed to do galamsey; Ghanaians do register for them and then they are using the identities of these Ghanaians to do their trade. Mr Speaker, in the sale of petroleum products, foreigners are not supposed to engage in that, and yet, they do so, using Ghanaians to engage in the sale of petroleum products.

'From Accra to Kumasi, and indeed to Bawku, along the way you see those who are doing that. We know they are not Ghanaians; the law prohibits them to do that, [but] go to them [and] they will tell you I'm manning this station for and on behalf of a Ghanaian. Mr Speaker, in Accra here, the sale of lands, many parcels of lands are being sold to foreigners. Prime lands being sold to foreigners,' he remarked.

He agreed, based on earlier submissions by other colleagues, that Ghana had rectified conventions, but same he stated, cannot supplant the constitution of the nation.

The MP for Tamale Central, Inusah Fuseini, feared of reprisal attacks should Ghanaians continue to take the laws into their own hands against their foreign nationals taking over their legal businesses.

Also, the MP for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyepong, indicated that the foreigners, Nigerians in particular, are able to reduce their prices because interest rates in their country are lower than Ghana.

He said that if the banks were able to give loans to Ghanaians at reduced interest rates, they would be able to compete with the Nigerians and other foreigners doing business in the country.

Also commenting, Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, described as thorny the issue under discussion, blaming same on the Economic Community of West Africa States (ECOWAS) protocols, which allows free movements of citizens of member states.

He, however, advised aggrieved traders not to take the laws into their own hands, but rather go to court for a pronouncement, adding that the focus should be on how Ghana could benefit from Nigerians' investments, and not how to sack them from the country.

Blaming some Ghanaians for fronting for these Nigerians and turn round to cry foul, the MP urged Nigerians and other foreigners in the country to comport themselves.

A Deputy Trade Minister and MP for Tema West, Carlos Ahenkorah, indicated that it would be unfortunate for Ghanaians to sit aloof and allow foreigners to live in the country as if there were no laws governing them.

He told the House that his ministry was working assiduously at protecting the interests of Ghanaians.
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Publication:Ghanaian Chronicle (Accra, Ghana)
Geographic Code:6GHAN
Date:Jul 25, 2019
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