The Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has said its members are losing patience over the continued presence of foreigners in Ghana’s retail trade market.
Speaking on Eyewitness News, Benjamin Yeboah, the National Welfare Officer of GUTA, said the association was trying to keep its members in check.
“The agitations on the ground are so high. Our members keep on threatening to take the law into their own hands, and we also try to cool them down for them.”
“Patience can run out when our members continuously complain that they are losing their businesses,” Mr. Yeboah said.
The association has threatened to resume locking up shops of foreigners because of stalled negotiations under the Joint Implementation Taskforce.
The brunt of GUTA’s action in the past has been towards the Nigeria Union of Traders Association, Ghana (NUTAG).
Mr. Yeboah said, as part of negotiations, GUTA had been trying to get data on Nigerian traders in Ghana so “some sort of concession can be given to them.”
“But unfortunately they [NUTAG] went and came back and said they cannot provide the information and that was really a problem because we all know what the law says.”
The NUTAG president, Chukwuemeka Nnaji, however, disputed GUTA’s account, saying the delays were because of contentions with some parts of the proposed agreement.
NUTAG is not happy that the concession stipulates that its members who have not registered with the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre are only allowed to remain traders for only the remaining duration of their tenancy agreement.
Following this, Mr. Nnaji said they are supposed to pack out because the rent for those shops shall not be renewed, and they will not be allowed to rent shops anywhere in Ghana.
“That was the bone of contention and the co-chair wrote that we should go and consult our government and come back and that is where we are,” he said.
Mr. Nnaji further accused GUTA of working to undermine the government’s attempts at ensuring a compromise.
“We did not reject the concession. It is only that GUTA did not want us to benefit from the concession.”
Though there is free trade among ECOWAS countries, Ghana’s laws say a 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.
There is also a $1 million minimum capital requirement for foreigners doing business in Ghana, in line with GIPC Act.