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Business News of Saturday, 12 November 2016

Source: Graphic.com.gh

Take steps to address issues affecting local businesses - GUTA to Akufo-Addo

The President of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), Nana Barima Ofori Ameyaw I, has expressed hope that a government under the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo would take steps to address concerns militating against the flourishing of local businesses.

Some of the concerns, as he listed on behalf of GUTA, included the high rate of duties that were charged on goods at the country’s entry points which cumulatively stand at 55 per cent of the amount a business person invested into business operations.

He also cited the high exchange rate of the cedi against other major trading currencies, the harsh interest rate of 33 per cent on bank loans that came with an additional two per cent processing fee, bringing the total to 35 per cent.

Businesses now working for banks“As the case is now, we are working for the commercial banks,” he said while addressing Nana Akufo-Addo, who was engaging the association to sell his message of economic prosperity to its membership and to solicit their support in his bid to become the president of Ghana.

In other economies where the informal sector played a leading role in achieving real economic transformation, he said taxes that were paid by the sector ranged from zero to five per cent, thus creating an environment for businesses to develop and contribute to the growth of the economy.

In the case of Ghana, however, he said the tax regime, rather than spurring businesses on, had become very punitive, asking, “How can a businessman do well with such a huge tax burden?”Aside from all those concerns, he said one other major issue of worry to the GUTA was the influx of foreigners into the country who were engaging in retail businesses to the disadvantage of the ordinary Ghanaian business person.

He said the space that had been given to such foreigners had resulted in Ghanaian business persons being relegated to the background, such that they were now considered as third class citizens, thus playing inferior to the foreigners.

These concerns, Nana Osei Ameyaw said had been raised on several occasions to the government but nothing had so far been done.Foreign businessmen killing retail businessHe said GUTA was not against direct foreign investment in the country’s economy but what it loathed was the tendency of foreigners coming into the country and engaging in retail activities that ought to be the sole preserve of the Ghanaian local industry.

The presence of these foreigners, he said, had led to shop owners charging extraordinary high rents that local business owners were unable to pay but were comfortably afforded by the foreigners.What was more troubling, he mentioned, was the fact that when such foreigners made profits, they ended up repatriating the profits to their respective countries, thus denying Ghana the needed financial resource that would accelerate development.

Nana Akufo-Addo, in his response, said it was the firm belief of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) that the country’s development would be deeper, firmer and more successful when led by the private sector.

The role of a government under his leadership will be to facilitate the process by providing a conducive environment for private businesses to flourish.

‘This is totally unacceptable’What was happening to private businesses under the Mahama administration, he said, was “totally unacceptable”, adding that it was the duty of the government to create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive.

A crucial part of his agenda for change, he said, was the premium on the effective management of the economy which he said, when done well, would see interest rates and inflation plummeting, leading to the flourishing of businesses.

In that regard, he announced that when voted into power, he would ensure that the whole legislative and administrative framework for doing business in the country was looked at towards ensuring that the appropriate environment for businesses to thrive was created.For that to happen, however, he added a caveat in apparent reference to the United States (US) election: “The sooner we take the power from them, the better,” adding, “The elephant has entered the White House”, so “Let’s push the elephant to enter the Jubilee (Flagstaff) House.”