Angry business owners to demonstrate on March 4

Business News of Monday, 23 February 2015

Source: The Finder

Seth Adjei Baah  GCCI Prez

Tired of the numerous challenges facing them, the business community in Ghana has united to stage one of the largest non-political demonstrations in recent history on March 4, 2015.

The Finder can report that on Thursday, February 4, a letter was dispatched to the police to notify them of the planned demonstration.

It is being organised under the auspices of the Joint Private Sector Businesses Consultative Forum, an umbrella body of business groups in Ghana.

Consequently, they plan to hold a press conference at the head office of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) on Wednesday, February 25, 2015 to inform the public of their intended demonstration.

All shops and companies in Accra and Tema would be closed for the whole day. The protest would be repeated in all 10 regions.

The Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Food and Beverages Importers Association, GUTA, Ghana Automobile Distributors Association (GADA), Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Pharmaceutical Association, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF) and Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana as well as others will all take part in the demonstration.

Speaking to The Finder on condition of anonymity, organisers of the event said a petition would be presented to Trade and Industry Minister Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, who the business community sees as doing well, calling on him and President John Dramani Mahama to, as a matter of urgency, take decisive action to fix the ailing economy.

The Joint Private Sector Businesses Consultative Forum says the Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme (G-CAP), to be implemented by the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA), and the Advance Shipment Information System (ASHI), to be implemented by the Ghana Shippers’ Authority (GSA), should be scrapped.

They argue that the two policies would further increase the already high cost of doing business in the country.

The organisers told The Finder that production and over costs have increased drastically and, if care is not taken, many captains of industry will lose their investments in businesses built over so many years.

They noted that most policies are largely intended to raise revenue rather than to support the business community.

“We have no more money to pay anybody again,” one of the business leaders said.

According to them, all manner of policies are being introduced without any genuine consideration for the growth of business.

The captains of businesses told The Finder that many of them would have relocated to other countries if their businesses were functioning well like they did 10 years ago.

According to information gathered by The Finder, the Joint Private Sector Businesses Consultative Forum initially planned the demonstration for March 5, and it was to last for 10 days.

However, the decision was changed because the organisers did not want to disrupt Independence Day celebration.

Also, the police say they have a major seminar starting on March 4, 2015 and, therefore, the date in the letter may be changed to March 3 after consultations with the police.

The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana said the implementation of the Advance Shipment Information System (ASHI) is inimical to business.

They called on the government to take a critical look at the implementation date and advice the Ghana Shippers’ Authority to postpone it to avoid creating bureaucracy and chaos.

Importers and exporters are of the view that ASHI is not the solution to resolving demurrage as being expunged by the Shippers’ Authority.

According to them, demurrage, which is the penalty for not clearing goods on time, can be resolved without ASHI.

They explained that bureaucracy at the port as well as the inability of importers to raise money in time to pay for goods in order for their documents to be released to them on time to clear goods account for demurrage.

Therefore, ASHI will in no way resolve these problems.

The business community has asked the GSA to completely cancel the proposed Ghana Conformity Assessment Programme (G-CAP).

They argue that G-CAP will increase the cost of imports, which will be passed on to consumers, and cannot achieve its targeted aim of clamping down on fake and sub-standard imports.

According to them, what G-CAP seeks to achieve are already being done, and only strict enforcement of the current law can clampdown on fake goods, not introducing G-CAP.

In any case, Ghana ranks higher than all the African countries practising the G-CAP in terms of restricting counterfeit and sub-substandard goods.

According to them, the introduction of G-CAP would only make Ghana less competitive in the ease of doing business, which will further plummet the economy.

Currently, Ghana is ranked 67th in the world in terms of ease of doing business, far better than countries such as Nigeria, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda that are implementing G-CAP.

For example, Nigeria, Burundi, Tanzania and Uganda ranked between 125th and 150th in the world, and wondered if that would rather not mar Ghana’s ease of doing business.

Businesses said G-CAP is time-consuming, problematic and expensive, and will wipe out the small- and medium-scale traders who buy mixed goods from the open market as additional cost will be shifted to them.

They appealed to government to develop and harmonise standard in the sub-region, conduct research on the levels and kinds of sub-standard goods in the country and improve and strengthen border controls.

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