The Ministry of Trade and Industry is accusing the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) of acting in bad faith.
Thousands of traders in the major markets in Accra and Kumasi have closed down their shops in protest against government’s inability to remove foreigners in retail trading from the markets, and the recent hike in taxes.
They are also protesting against government policies they say are stifling their businesses.
But according to the outgoing Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Nii Lante Vanderpuye, there had been extensive discussions with the leadership of GUTA and they agreed to present a blue-print to deal with their concerns.
He expressed shock at GUTA’s decision to embark on the strike saying,“if anything at all, they should have reverted to me to say that, ‘these issues we discussed with you, we have not seen any move on them’ and then I will know what to do. I have been waiting for them to bring to me the proposal they discussed. I haven’t heard anything from them.”
The Deputy Minister added that GUTA’s move was not justified and “I will urge GUTA executives and their members to let us talk and immediately ask their people to open their shops and come and let us sit at the table and talk. If after these series of discussions nothing really concrete happens, then they will be justified taking this action they have taken. But for now, whatever decision they have taken now is preemptory and not justified”.
Mr. Vanderpuye however conceded that there could not be a lasting solution to the issue of the influx of foreigners in the retail trade if Ghanaians continue to front for the foreigners.
“Inasmuch as Ghanaians will continue to front for foreigners, we will not have a permanent solution unless as Ghanaians, we decide that we will not front for people who are not Ghanaians, but want to take our work from us. Today people are complaining about Chinese people selling ‘Charlie wate’ [Flip flop]. It’s amazing. It is Ghanaian women who always go and take from them to sell in the market,” he remarked.
Nii Lante Vanderpuye indicated some of the local traders say they preferred to do business with foreigners because they offered favourable terms of trade.
“Some of the girls say the Ghanaian shop owners are not able to give to them on credit, but they Chinese are able to give to them on credit,” he said.
He added that the UTA’s concerns about the hikes in taxes should be presented to the Ministry of Finance since it was outside his remit.
GUTA has given foreigners in retail trade to leave the market by the end of this month.
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