NDC rallies public to reject proposed import restriction law

Key Issues Politics

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) has rallied the public to ‘strongly’ reject the Legislative Instrument (LI) on the Export and Import (Restrictions on Importation of Selected Strategic Product) Regulations, 2023.

The LI will compel importers of 22 restricted items such as poultry, rice, sugar, diapers and animal intestines to seek licences from a committee set up by the Minister of Trade and Industry.

At a press conference in Accra on Wednesday, the Party said the law could breed corruption, burden businesses that import the affected items, and worsen the economic conditions of the people.

Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, the Minority Leader in Parliament, told journalists that the proposed restriction on selected imported products would impose additional burden on businesses.

He said the NDC was not against any legal regime or policy that sought to protect indigenous businesses by restricting import, but the approach adopted by the Government and the power given to the Minister of Trade in granting import p
ermits was problematic.

‘The regulatory framework is not only opaque but can lend itself to arbitrariness and abuse. This clearly is going to be an avenue for extortion and corruption if allowed to stand.’ Dr Forson said.

The NDC proposed what it described as ‘transparent quota system’ for the importation of certain products as was previously implemented in the poultry sector.

The Party also proposed the imposition of tariff and non-tariff measures on certain products to encourage patronage and consumption of locally-produced commodities.

‘A quota system requires a prospective importer of a particular product to first show proof of utilising existing local capacity by procuring a certain percentage of his intended import volume, locally.’ Dr Forson explained.

Last Thursday, the Minority halted efforts to lay the LI in Parliament and asked the Minister of Trade and Industry to undertake broader consultations with stakeholders to address their concerns.

Some trade associations, including the Ghana Union o
f Traders’ Associations, Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, and the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana have expressed misgivings about the proposed restriction, calling for a withdrawal of the L.I.

Dr Forson said the L.I. offended some international trade treaties and protocols that Ghana had ratified, including the World Trade Organisation Trade Facilitation Agreement, particularly on quantitative restrictions.

‘This could lead to serious retaliatory action by our trade partners and eventually affect exports from Ghana,’ he said.

The NDC also expressed worry over plans by the Government to introduce Value-Added Tax (VAT) on non-life insurance, residential and commercial real estate, domestic air travels, and excise duty of GHS100 per annum for all petrol and diesel vehicles.

The Party described the tax as ‘regressive’ and called on the Government to withdraw those regulations immediately and broaden engagements with stakeholders.

Source: Ghana News Agency