Accra, Dec 9, GNA – The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Minority has noted with relief the Government’s announcement to suspend the laying of the proposed regulations on Restriction of Imports of Selected Strategic Products, 2023.
A statement signed by Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, the Minority Leader, copied to the Ghana News Agency, said the Minority had always maintained that those regulations would breed corruption.
That was because not only were they arbitrary and opaque but they were designed to encourage exercise of discretionary power in the hands of one person, particularly the Minister of Trade and Industry.
« We have argued that by vesting too much unfettered and unchecked power in the Minister to determine who qualifies or not to be granted a permit to import as many as 24 commodities, the regulations lend themselves to abuse of power, state capture and rent-seeking conduct reminiscent of the days of ‘essential commodities’ and ‘price control’, » the statement said.
« Indeed, various stakeholders including the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), the Food and Beverages Association, Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, the Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Chamber of Automobile Dealership, and the National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, have all joined us in kicking against these proposed import restrictions. »
It said the Minority, in principle, was not against any legal regime or policy that sought to protect indigenous businesses by regulating imports.
« What we are vehemently against is a law that confers unfettered discretionary power on a single individual, in this case a Minister of Trade, to issue import license and to restrict the quantity of certain imports into the country, without any checks and balances. »
That defied sound logic for the Government to seek to restrict imports, contrary to what it had signed regarding Ghana’s current International Monetary Fund (IMF) programme, the statement said.
It said one of the quantitative performance criteria in Ghana’s current IMF bailout was a requirement to avoid the imposition or intensification of restrictions on imports for balance of payment reasons.
At a time Ghanaians were reeling under countless taxes, including those contained in the 2024 Budget, it would not be right that government introduced import restrictions that would fuel inflation and hoarding, the statement said.
« We are happy that the Government has jettisoned these regulations after stiff resistance and opposition in Parliament by the Minority Caucus. »
« We wish to assure the Ghanaian people and the business community that the Minority will always be on their side and put their interest first. Ghana First! »