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Government must withdraw L.I. seeking to restrict import of strategic products -Minority

The Minority in Parliament, Cassiel Ato Forson has called on President Akufo-Addo to immediately cause the withdrawal of a regulation seeking to restrict the importation of rice, fruit juice, margarine, cement, fish, sugar and 16 other “strategic products”.

The Trade Minister, Kobina Tahir Hammond, who is pushing this regulation hopes it will help the cedi appreciate as well as help grow local industries.

Per the proposed regulation, any person seeking to import the selected products will require permission from the Trade Minister.

Addressing journalists on Thursday, November 22, the Minority Leader described the regulation as a bad policy that must be withdrawn immediately.

“We are urging the President to have a rethink because this is not a policy that we should encourage and they have to withdraw it,” he entreated.

According to him, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) frowns on such a policy. He said it is a clear violation of WTO practices.

He cited a similar committee [Justice Ollennu Committee] which was established in 1967 to identify corruption and malpractices relating to import licences, adding that “the report was clear that the practice was outmoded and it cannot be continued because people use it for the purposes of rent-seeking.”

The Minority Leader stated that restricting importation will fuel inflation in the country which will lead to the worsening of the burden of Ghanaians.

According to him, the government cannot restrict the importation of goods when there are no ready substitutes.

“If they had created domestic production for some of these items, I would have no issue. But clearly, we know they want to restrict sugar but we do not have a sugar processing plant. The one that Mr Mahama actually constructed, this government is refusing to open it so where is the sugar going to come from?

“What they are seeking to do is to create businesses for their financiers,” he claimed.

He also expressed worry that with the development, traders might not get the licence to import products if they do not have ties with the New Patriotic Party.

Source: MyJoyonline.com

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