Clement Boateng, the acting Vice President of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) has said that Nigerians whose shops are shut will have to pay the $1m fee and comply with other business laws in the country before their shops could be reopened.
On Monday, August 10, 2020, Ghanaian authorities went round requesting registration of business taxes, resident permit, standard control and Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) registration certificates.
According to the president of Nigeria Union of Traders in Ghana (NUTAG), Chukwuemeka Nnaji, many shops belonging to Nigerians were locked because most Nigerian traders in Ghana do not have the GIPC registration certificate, which costs one million dollars cash or equity.
Speaking with ThePunch in an interview, Boateng said any foreigner who wants to run a retail business in Ghana is expected to pay the fee in cash or equity as stated in the Ghana Investment Promotion Council Act (GIPC).
He also said the GIPC states that traders who are foreigners must employ a minimum of 25 skilled Ghanaian workers.
According to him, the law, which was passed by Ghanaian parliament in 1994 was not made to drive foreigners away but to sanitise the country’s retail industry.
He said, “The Ghana Union of Traders Association has, over the years, complained to the authorities to try as much as possible to enforce the law, so that they can sanitise the retail industry. It is not that we are driving foreigners away”.
Dismissing the claims that there are xenophobic attacks on Nigerian businesses in Ghana, Boateng said Ghanaian authorities are only enforcing the country’s law.
He said, “There is no xenophobic attack on anybody or any foreigner, not even Nigerians in Ghana. It is just that the authorities have found a need that they must try as much as possible to enforce the law. We have a lot of foreigners who have complied with this law. There is even one Nigerian man who deals in lights; he has complied with the law and we don’t have any problem with him. He is doing his legitimate business.
“But we cannot stand by while the foreigners flout this law with impunity when they have not satisfied the law by providing the $1m either in cash or in equity and still continue to do the retail business to the detriment of the indigenes”.
Boateng further said that they are aware that Nigerian traders in Ghana are not satisfied with the law, "but they cannot dictate to the people of Ghana to come out with laws which will satisfy them. The only thing they have to do is to try as much as possible to meet the requirements. If you meet the requirements, you are free to do your business. But if you don’t and you want to cut corners, that one is unacceptable".
Meanwhile, NUTAG President has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to come to their rescue.
Nnaji said that the call became imperative because over 160 businesses belonging to Nigerian traders in Ghana have been locked by the Ghanaian authorities.