Business News of Monday, 9 February 2015
Mr George Kweku-Ofori, President of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) has stated that President Mahama’s drive towards the patronage of Made in Ghana goods cannot be achieved without the provision of tax incentives to the domestic industries.
“Currently, the local Ghanaian industries are struggling to cope up with their competitors, who bring in cheaper goods and the only way they can survive is by providing subsidies for them to produce at lower costs.”
Mr Kweku-Ofori, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview that the impact of the electricity fluctuations on businesses in the country suggested to government to provide between 10 to 20 per cent electricity and import subsidies to the industries to come alive in a stiff competition between them and the Asian Tigers.
He said prices of goods and services had for the past months shot up due to many factors than petroleum products and therefore government’s 10 per cent reduction on petroleum prices became insignificant to change the trend.
Mr Kweku-Ofori said prices of goods and services were determined by market forces such as; exchange rates, inflation trends and interest rates of financial institutions, which made ‘nonsense’ of the 10 per cent reduction of petroleum products.
He told the GNA that GUTA was import dependent, a process he said, could take over six months to get the goods into the country, asking ‘my brother assuming I imported my goods before the 10 per cent reduction on the petroleum products, of what difference will it make to my prices?’
On the impact of the current electricity load-shedding on businesses, the GUTA President said while some micro-businesses were folding up because of the fluctuations, others had resorted to down-sizing their workforce to avoid many more losses.
“Many local and international industries are currently laying- off their workers because of the losses they had incurred in the past two years or so, and I urge government to take a critical look at the situation to save lives and property as unemployment could lead to social unrests in the country,” the GUTA President added.
He appealed to government not to politicize the power issue by hiding the truth from the people, adding ‘ it will be better to let Ghanaians know the truth and fight together for solutions, rather than trivializing serious issues like electricity.’
Mr Kweku-Ofori appealed to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to dialogue on issues concerning trade to the leadership to avoid suspicion in their dealings.
Explaining further, the GUTA President said some traders in the various markets in Accra received notices, purportedly from the AMA to pay GH¢2,130.00 for displaying the names of their enterprises at their gates.
He said although the AMA had denied it, it was imperative to deal with the leadership of GUTA officially to avoid deceit and extortions from illegitimate hands.