Kwesi Pratt Jnr. has urged government to provide an alternative support for local businesses and farmers before implementing its restrictions on food imports into the country.
A bill has been laid before Parliament to legislate the importation of food commodities by imposing restrictions on it.
The Minister of Trade, Kobina Tahir Hammond, is pushing for this legislation believing it is a solution to the decline of local businesses and the cedi depreciation.
When the bill is enacted, food commodities such as rice, fruit juice, margarine, cement, fish, sugar and 16 other products that the government terms “strategic products” will be affected by the restrictions.
But six business associations comprising the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA), Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG), Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Chamber of Automobile Dealership Ghana (CADEG) and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) have vehemently kicked against the bill.
They outlined their concerns in a petition to Parliament asking the House to reject the bill.
The associations argue that the imports restriction “will eventually lead to monopolistic or oligopolistic position for a few select business in the country at the expense of many smaller businesses. The permit will definitely hinder the flow of goods from exporting countries to receivers in Ghana since importers would no longer be able on market demands to dictate the quantities to be ordered as companies will be at the whims of the Minister of Trade and Industry”.
Discussing the issue, the seasoned Journalist, Kwesi Pratt Jnr. admitted regulating food imports is a right call, however, the government will be punishing local businesses and individuals should the restrictions be imposed now.
He explained that local production is not on par with foreign imports, hence this legislation will have detrimental effects on Ghanaians, so challenged government to first initiate measures that boost local production.
“The motive is not wrong but if you take something like rice, comparing the rice we consume in this country to those imported from abroad, ours is not up to even 50%. So, as we currently haven’t made arrangements to grow sufficient rice for us, bringing these measures is a punishment because the purchasing price will be expensive. Therefore, before this regulation comes into force, we should have rolled out measures to grow what we can eat, sow what we can wear and drink our own water,” he said on Peace FM’s “Kokrokoo” show Tuesday morning.