In order to successful host the secretariat of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ghana should review its trade laws and tackle insecurity.
The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) made the plea to Ghana on July 23, 2019 through its President, Mr Ken Ukaoha, in a letter conveyed to President Nana Akufo-Addo.
Describing the president as a sound and respected lawyer of repute, NANTS boss advised him to look into Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC) Act 865 (2013), enacted to phase out and replace the previous GIPC Act 478 (1994).
”Kindly peruse section 27 thereof, which stipulates that “a non-citizen or an enterprise which is not wholly owned by Ghanaian citizen shall not invest or participate in sales of goods or provision of services.
“It is our most humble submission that such provision in all intents and purposes conflict with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Treaty and Protocols and presently, the AfCFTA objectives.
“Similar to the above is the institution/collection of a 200 dollars transit fee levied by the Customs Division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) on export consignments in transit through frontier stations.
“This should be reviewed as it contravenes the ECOWAS Inter States Road Transit Convention (ISRT) and the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme (ETLS) which are building blocks to the AfCFTA.
“The repeal of those sections of the law (i.e. the Customs Excise and Preventive Service (Management/Amendment) Act (614), 2002 and Section 48 Sub-section 2 of PNDC L 330 as amended by the Commissioner’s Order No. 6 of 2002), have become imperative,” he said.
Ukaoha, a legal practitioner said latter law was repealed by section 152(1) of Customs Act 891 of 2015 and considering that no such fees were imposed at the seaports and airports for the transit import trade.
He said since the upcoming AfCFTA implementation presented a huge opportunity for countries to review domestic trade laws to agree with the continental space, it became instructive that Ghanaian government should amend its laws.
Ukaoha frowned at the unlawful collection of Value Added Tax (VAT) on transit services, as VAT should be pro-rated and charged on only the distance covered in the Ghana territory, in direct adherence to the existing VAT Law 2013 (Act 870).
He urged the government to address lack of uniformity in the issuance of 90 days Residence Permit to visiting ECOWAS/African citizens.
He also called for the review of the issuance of Identity Cards for Non-Ghanaian African citizens, including migrants of ECOWAS/African Member States, for 120 dollars per year and 60 dollars annual renewal fee thereafter.
”Your Excellency should look into issuance of Work Permit for non-Ghanaian African citizens, including migrants of ECOWAS/African Member States, for 300 dollars per year and the issuance of Business Registration Certificate to non-Ghanaian citizens.
”Ghanaian government should also look into migrants of ECOWAS/African Member States, for 5000 dollars (which is 0.5 per cent of the minimum capital requirement of 1000 000 dollars) the requirement of Business Registration Certificate before applying for the Identity Card, for Non-Ghanaian citizens.”
He therefore urge Ghanaian government to propel parliamentary review of other domestic laws to come in consonance with extant regional and continental trade laws, which Ghana has willingly signed on to and committed to promote and protect.
Ukaoha, however, congratulated Ghanaian government and Ghanaians for winning the bid to host the secretariat of AfCFTA.
He noted that the hosting right was a victory for entire people of ECOWAS and conferred greater responsibility on Ghana.
”This responsibility is the practical commitment to upholding the protection of lives and property of Africans living in Ghana.
“Its citizens should practice free and unhindered trade, anchored on the Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services which is the foundation of the AfCFTA’s building blocks,” he added.
Ukaoha said Nigerian traders expected Ghanaian government’s assurance of improved security that could cleanse past ugly records by guaranteeing the rights of not only Nigerian traders, but all Africans living and doing business in Ghana.
”NANTS wishes to commend the laudable efforts made in the past few months by your Security Agencies, especially the Ghanaian Police, in guarding against unprovoked attacks on Nigerian traders and their means of livelihoods.
”Unfortunately, it was reported all over Ghanaian media that an MP for Suame Magazine in the Adshanti region, who incidentally is the Majority Leader in the Ghanaian Parliament was calling for ‘enforcement of laws banning non-Ghanaians from engaging in their legitimate buying and selling in the Country.
”In order to guide against needless humiliation of Ghana’s integrity herein secured by the hosting of AfCFTA Secretariat, you need to weigh down on politicians who masquerade as leaders and fan the embers of xenophobic attacks against citizens of other nationals trading in Ghana.
“Hostilities would not take us to the tripod path of economic prosperity, regional integration and peaceful co-existence enshrined in the AfCFTA objectives.
“Our brothers from Ghana may therefore wish to learn from Nigeria’s hosting of the ECOWAS Secretariat for decades without any record of discrimination, harassment or intimidation of any Ghanaian or West African citizen working in ECOWAS Secretariat till date.
“If attacks and harassment of the community citizens continue, it would rubbish the AfCFTA, and more importantly, destroy the integrity of Ghana.
“It will place the country’s name in the mud before the international community,” the legal practitioner said.