Africa-Press – Ghana. The laying of the Import and Export (Restrictions on Importation of Selected Strategic Products) Regulations, 2023, has hit a snag once again following opposition by the Minority to the Instrument in its current form.
Yesterday’s blockage was the fourth to the LI which seeks to abolish importation of 22 items including sugar, rice, fruit juice, margarine and other products the government considers “strategic”.
The minority said it was not against the restrictions on importations but same must be done with tact by ensuring that the country had enough production capacity arguing that the necessary consultations have not been done to inculcate the views of stakeholders into the draft Instrument before it was laid.
Consequently, the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, directed that the House pulled the break on the laying for the minister to consult stakeholders wider, inculcate their inputs before it is laid tomorrow, Thursday, November 30, 2023.
The LI has faced opposition from some stakeholders including six business groups; the Ghana Union of Traders Association, the Food and Beverages Association of Ghana, Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders, Chamber of Automobile Dealership Ghana, and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
Leading the Minority’s objection to the LI in its current form when the Trade and Industry Minister, Kobina Tahir Hammond, attempted to lay the paper, caucus leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, said the minister had breached an agreement he reached with the Trade, Industry and Tourism committee to amend the draft LI to inculcate the concerns of stakeholders.
“Mr Speaker, as we speak, we have not seen the changes that the minister promised to make to the draft regulation. So we are at a loss why he wants to lay the same regulation today,” he said.
Apart from that, Dr Forson, MP, Ajumako/Enyan/Esiam, said the LI was not accompanied by the fiscal impact analysis pursuant to section 100 of the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 and the House not having the quorate number of 92 to undertake that exercise.
“Mr Speaker, our position on this LI is simple. If they want to go ahead and lay this LI in spite of the objections we have raised, we will not be part of it. I urge the minister to stand this LI down and continue to engage stakeholders. There is a lot wrong with this LI,” he stated.
Majority Leader and MP for Suame, Osei Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu, said though the request of the minority for broader consultation may be legitimate, the minister was not under any obligation to do so.
He believed, however, in the infinite wisdom and collective integrity of the House to look at the concerns of the minority and industry dispassionately and resolve the issues thereof.
He said the impression had been created as though “overnight, the ministry and minister is going to ban all these products. Let us not misinform the general public”.
At the heart of the LI, Mr Kyei-Mensah-Bonsu said, was import substitution to protect local industries and that conversation should be how that could be achieved.
Admitting that he only had a closer look at the LI last Friday when it had been blocked twice, the majority leaders said he noticed some provisions in the LI which needed to be amended as he asked for collaboration for the Instrument to be laid for it to mature before the House adjourned sine dine for the Christmas break.
Mr Hammond on his side dismissed the claims by the minority that there was no consultation and that the LI, which would give the minister’s committee the exclusive permission to grant import licenses, would be abused.
“We started dealing with this particular document when I first got to the ministry. It had taken us more than four months to run across the country for consultation. Every single particular grouping cannot be consulted but I can assure the House that there was broad consultation among stakeholders,” he explained.
According to Mr Hammond, the Committee to be clothed with the power to grant import licenses was made of 13 groupings including the trade unions as he wondered how the minister could compromise the regulation.
Source: Ghanaian Times