Akosombo Textile Limited (ATL), one of the leading fabric companies in the country is on the verge of collapsing as a result of cheap imports from China and other countries, Mr Ebenezer Kwasi Darko, Human Resources Manager of the company has disclosed.
Mr Darko disclosed this during a familiarization tour of the company site by the Eastern Regional Minister, Ms Helen Ntoso at Akosombo. He said the situation had compelled management of the company to cut down staff from 1,600 to 1,250.
Mr Darko also said, the situation had also brought about low patronage of their products, which were more fashionable and of better quality. He said, most of the foreign textiles on the market were smuggled into the country without payment of any tax which made their prices cheaper than the locally-manufactured ones.
He called on the government as a matter of urgency to put some control measures at the country’s ports and other entry points to check smuggling of textiles into the country in order to save the local companies from collapsing.
According to Mr Darko, ATL was not calling for the banning of importation of foreign textiles but stated that, the smugglers had a responsibility to stop their criminal act and pay the right taxes and duty to make the playing field level to engender competition.
“A ban does not give the consumer the right of choice and we also believe that it is not everybody who can afford every textile on the market because of the prices, but let us have a fair competition” he maintained.
He said there was the need for the government to ensure a level playing field in the textile industry before the local industries collapsed. The General Manager of the company, Mr Lau Arthur also said, more than 9600 people depended on the company to survive and if care is not taken and the unfortunate happened, all those people would be in serious trouble.
He stated among other things that, the importers of the pirated textiles do not only evade taxes on imported textile prints but do not provide adequate labeling information on country of origin.
Mr Arthur said, based on the price and texture of the print, buyers could distinguish between the substandard and the genuine textiles since the former is cheaper and usually hard, while the latter is soft and a little costly. He said, the wide disparity in the product pricing was due to low energy cost and interest rates as against high cost of raw materials and high interest rates in Ghana.
The Eastern Regional Minister in response described the situation as serious, adding that, the issue of pirating has been identified as a major challenge to the global economy.
She said, governments had used punitive measures to deter both existing and prospective traders from exploiting works that have been done by people through hard work, but the problem seemed not solved.
Ms Ntoso promised to forward the concerns of the company to the president for immediate action to be taken to save the company from imminent collapsing. The Regional Minister later visited the Volta River Authority (VRA) to acquaint herself with the operations of the company.