By Udora Orizu
The President of Ghana, Prof. Nana Akufo-Addo has assured the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila that the Ghanaian government would consider amending their law that makes it compulsory for foreigners (including Nigerian traders) to have $1million as capital base to enable them operate retail businesses in the country.
Several foreign businesses, many Nigerian-owned, in Ghana have been facing challenges with the nation’s demand for $1 million capital base, as enshrined in the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) Act (2013).
The need to review this law was one of the resolutions reached at the “Legislative Diplomacy Bilateral Meeting” between Nigeria and Ghana’s senior legislators to resolve the trade dispute between the two countries.
The House of Representatives, in a statement issued yesterday by its Spokesman, Benjamin Kalu, said Akufo-Addo gave the assurance to amend the law when the Speaker of Ghana’s parliament, Prof. Mike Oquaye, upon completion of the two-day extensive dialogue, led Gbajabiamila on a courtesy visit to the President at the Jubilee House, Accra, Ghana on Thursday.
The legislative diplomacy dialogue became imperative as the parliaments of the two countries sought ways to resolve challenges and provide an enabling business environment for foreign traders, including Nigerians, in Ghana.
During the visit, Gbajabiamila also sought an amendment of Ghana’s GIPC Act to make certain concessions, and suggested establishment of Ghana-Nigeria Business Council, backed by legislation on both sides.
Responding to the Speaker’s request, Akufo-Ado while expressing satisfaction with Gbajabiamila’s visit, endorsed his proposal for the establishment of a ‘Nigeria-Ghana Business Council’ and backed by law in both countries.
He additionally suggested the setting up of a joint ministerial committee that would “shepherd” issues between Ghana and Nigeria.
The Ghanaian President told Gbajabiamila he would also raise the issue with President Muhammadu Buhari when they meet at the ECOWAS Summit on Monday.
Akufo-Ado said: “I am hoping when I see him (Buhari) on Monday for the ECOWAS summit, we can advance these discussions and come to a final conclusion. The way you yourselves have come about this matter is very satisfactory, and it requires our support. The review that you are asking for, why not? If it works in our mutual perspectives, we can take it for granted that your request will be taken seriously. We will have a look at it. So, the request for the review makes a lot of sense.”
Meanwhile, in a communique issued jointly at the end of the bilateral meeting between members of the two Parliaments, it was resolved that “measures will be adopted to support law-abiding traders to properly regularise their business operations to alleviate the trade challenges occasioned by the alleged closure of the retail stores, in view of the ravaging impact of Covid-19 pandemic on businesses and families in both countries.”
They acknowledged that many stakeholders in the retail sector have limited appreciation of the trade laws of Ghana, in particular, Section 28 of the GIPC Act, which provides for the conditions under which non-Ghanaians can engage in trading activities and urged the relevant regulatory authorities, including the GIPC and Trade Attaches of foreign missions, to educate their citizens on the trade laws.
They equally emphasised the need to respect the sovereignty of Member States of ECOWAS and their laws but, in doing so, efforts must be made to ensure that the ECOWAS Agenda for free movement of people and goods in furtherance of a shared and prosperous future of citizens of the sub-region is not compromised.