Rice Importers Hit Back At Gov't Angrily

The NDC Government�s intention to re-impose Import Duties of Food items, Rice, Wheat and Cooking Oil has been met with fierce resistance by a section of Ghanaians. They say it defeats the NDC�s own social democratic agenda of ensuring a better Ghana for the people as it promised in its Manifesto. The Minister of Finance, Dr. Kwabena Duffuor announced on Wednesday, Nov 18, amongst others that Import duties on those food items and petroleum products withdrawn under the worthwhile NPP shall be re-imposed. The idea is to enable the government rake in enough revenue for growth and also encourage local production of those food items. However, food importers and consumers alike are outraged at the decision saying it will impede business and expose the ordinary Ghanaian to more hardship. In an interview with Citi FM, the Public Affairs Director of Finatrade, a major stake holder in the Food and Beverage Industry, Mr. John Awuni said although the decision seems to be an easy way for the government to mobilize revenue, it is ill timed. �It is going to be one of the most negative economic decisions this government would have taken based on the timing of the policy because for the first time in twenty years India has scrapped its import duty which is 70% on Rice.� He said. The Government�s decision seems to consolidate its support for the local production of Rice and other staples. But Mr Awuni holds a contrary view. According to him, the local rice has not seen any improvement despite the imposition of taxes on imported rice. �I would have been happy if we had said that there is a rice development fund and we are sure that whatever tax we raise will go into that fund for the improvement of the domestic rice sector.� He added.