Mr. George Kweku-Ofori, President of the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA), has stated that President Mahama’s drive toward patronage of Made in Ghana goods cannot be achieved without providing tax incentives for domestic industries.
“Currently, local industries are struggling to cope with their competitors who bring in cheaper goods — and the only way they can survive is by providing subsidies for them to produce at lower cost.”
Mr. Kweku-Ofori, told the Ghana News Agency (GNA) in an interview that the impact of electricity fluctuations on businesses in the country suggests government should provide between 10 to 20 percent electricity and import subsidies for the industries to come alive in a stiff competition between them and the Asian Tigers.
He said prices of goods and services had for the past months shot up due to many factors than petroleum products and therefore government’s 10 percent reduction on petroleum prices became insignificant to change the trend.
Mr. Kweku-Ofori said prices of goods and services are determined by market forces; such as exchange rates, inflation trends and interest rates of financial institutions, which makes ‘nonsense’ of the 10 percent reduction in petroleum products price.
He told the GNA that GUTA is import dependent: a process, he said, can take over six months to get goods into the country, asking: “My brother, assuming I imported my goods before the 10 percent reduction on the petroleum products, what difference will it make to my prices?”
On the impact of current electricity load-shedding on businesses, the GUTA President said while some micro-businesses are folding-up because of the fluctuations, others had resorted to down-sizing their workforces to avoid any more losses.
“Many local and international industries are currently laying-off their workers because of the losses they have incurred in the past two years or so, and I urge government to take a critical look at the situation to save lives and property as unemployment could lead to social unrest in the country,” the GUTA President added.
He appealed for government not to politicise the power issue by hiding truth from the people, adding: “It would be better to let Ghanaians know the truth and fight together for solutions, rather than trivialising serious issues like electricity”.
Mr. Kweku-Ofori appealed to the Accra Metropolitan Assembly to dialogue on issues concerning trade with the leadership to avoid suspicion in their dealings.
Explaining further, the GUTA President said some traders in the various markets of Accra received notices, purportedly from the AMA, to pay GH¢2,130 for displaying the names of their enterprises at their gates.
He said although the AMA has denied this, it is imperative to deal with the leadership of GUTA officially to avoid deceit and extortion from illegitimate hands.