Minority, stakeholders’ protest compels gov’t to backtrack on import restrictions bill

import, tax exemption
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The government has decided to suspend the proposed import regulations bill that faced strong opposition from the Minority Caucus in Parliament and various trade associations.

The regulations would have given the Minister of Trade and Industry the sole authority to grant or deny permits to importers of certain goods including rice, sugar, poultry products diapers among others.

The Minority, led by Cassiel Ato Forson, argued that this would create opportunities for corruption, state capture, and rent-seeking, and compared it to the era of ‘essential commodities’ and ‘price control’.

The Minority also expressed their support for the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Chamber of Automobile Dealership Ghana, and the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who all rejected the import restrictions.

The Minority leader, in a statement released on Friday, clarified that the Caucus was not against import regulations that protect local businesses, but they were against a law that gives too much power to one person without checks and balances.

He welcomed the government’s decision to halt the regulations and called for a broader consultation with stakeholders to find a better solution.

Critics have also pointed out the contradiction in the government’s move, as it appears to defy the commitments made in Ghana’s current IMF program, which includes a quantitative performance criterion against imposing or intensifying import restrictions for balance of payment reasons.

At a time when Ghanaians are grappling with economic challenges and numerous taxes, the introduction of import restrictions was seen as potentially exacerbating inflation and hoarding.

Ato Forson expressed satisfaction that the government has abandoned the regulations following stiff resistance and opposition in Parliament.

He reassured the Ghanaian public and the business community that the Minority would always prioritize their interests, echoing the slogan ‘Ghana First.’

This development marks a significant victory for the NDC Minority and various stakeholders who stood against what they perceived as a potential threat to fair trade practices and economic stability in the country.


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