GSA defies Spio-Garbrah’s directive

Business News of Sunday, 1 March 2015

Source: The Chronicle

Spio Garbrah Ekwow Trade

The Ministry of Trade and Industry’s directive on the suspension of the Ghana Conformity Assessment programme (G-CAP) by the Ghana Standard Authority (GSA) has been defied by the latter.

This follows revelation that the GSA had sent communiqué to suppliers overseas that from March 2015 onwards any goods coming to Ghana without the conformity assessment will not be allowed into the country. The General Secretary of Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FBAG), Samuel Ato Aggrey, disclosed this in an interview with The Chronicle in Accra yesterday.

He added that; “our suppliers in abroad are sending us (exporters) emails on the announcement from the GSA. The suppliers do not know what the G-CAP is about, but the GSA is forcing it on them as well”.

Last year, the Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah suspended the implementation of the G-CAP, which was expected to be used to verify that imported products to Ghana were in conformity with applicable standards.

He directed the GSA to hold on the implementation of the G-CAP until further notice, saying though the G-CAP is to focus on quality of products to check the influx of shoddy goods into the country, there was the need to deepen stakeholder consultations before implementation.

Dr. Spio-Garbrah issued the directive after holding a marathon meeting with executives of Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) in November last year. But the GSA is still bent on implementing the programme which will trigger the increase of commodity prices in the country and also thwart the recovery process of the Ghanaian economy.

Earlier, addressing journalists at a press conference organised by the Private Sector Business groups including Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, GUTA, Ghana Pharmaceutical Association, Freight Forwarders Association of Ghana, and Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, the President of GUTA, George Ofori urged members to close their shops on 4th March to embark on the mammoth demonstration to further register their indignation over G-CAP and other related business policies.

He stated: “We implore the entire business community to stay tuned for further directives. We also appeal to the general public, especially our cherished customers to bear with us while we undertake this necessary action to achieve our objectives for the common good of the country”.

Mr. Ofori and his group who wore red bands and chanted war songs at the press conference also appealed to the relevant state agencies and authorities, especially the GSA and the Ghana Shippers’ Authority to cancel their impending programmes such as G-CAP and Advance Shipment Information System (ASHI) respectively.

This, they say is because the business community is tired and can no longer accept any additional cost at this time. This will curtail the growing agitations from the business community and the country as a whole.

Mr Ofori flanked by the Director Corporate Affairs of Finatrade, John Awuni added: “We are, by this press statement, asking our members of the business community to remain resolute and ignore the information they continue to receive from their supplier and the Ghana Shippers’ Authority, regarding the implementation of the G-CAP and ASHI respectively”.

Touching on the general economy situation, the GUTA president noted that businesses had watched over the years with great dismay the way and manner in which the private sector is increasingly being overburdened with various taxes and policies, culminating in the collapse of businesses, especially the small and medium scale ones.

Some of the cost and policies, business have been battling with in recent years, Mr Ofori mentioned include: increment of VAT from 12.5% to 17.5%; introduction of 17.5% financial service levy; 2% special levy on imports; and 1% levy on imports by Destination Inspection Companies (DICs).

To add salt to injury, they say effective 1st of March 2015; they are again told that the ASHI and a tax stamp will be introduced. All these are coming with additional cost to doing business in the country. The business associations stressed: “Our businesses are dying slowly. Indeed, we are angry!

In the past year, many businesses have painfully laid off workers as a result of the situation. We do not want to continue on this path, especially in times like this”. We will therefore not be able to accept any additional bureaucracy and layer of cost such as ASHI, G-CAP and any other.

To this end, they appealed to President John Dramani Mahama to intervene and work at reducing the cost and time of doing business in the country. As they put it: “Mr. President, our businesses are going down the drain it is not for, noting that imports reducing by 30% at the Tema Port last year.

We must continue to be a preferred destination of choice for doing business rather than losing it to our neighbouring countries. We would also like to appeal to parliament to be considerate in the manner in which some of these laws are enacted. Parliament must endeavour to allow adequate consultations with the relevant stakeholders”.