Closing shops will further reduce the already diminishing client base of local traders – TAGG

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Traders Advocacy Group Ghana (TAGG) has urged its members to reject and desist from following the directive from other traders’ associations urging members to close down their shops citing the current economic hardship as reason.

According to TAGG, closing their shops will not magically change the economic hardship facing traders but rather further reduce the already diminishing client base of local traders to foreign competitors.

Addressing a Press conference, General Secretary of TAGG, Nana Poku the directive being given by “some so called trade unions, calling on traders to close their shop in protest against the economic hardships” must not be heeded.

He explained that, the only effect the disturbing directive will have on traders who will close their shops is to drive the customers of local traders into the shops and big malls of foreign competitors like Melcom, China Mall, Maxmart, Shoprite, Game and Palace who by virtue of their size and investment are already sniffing LIFE out of local businesses and traders.

“We believe that closing down our shops will not magically change the economic hardship facing traders but rather further reduce the already diminishing client base of local traders to foreign competitors. As trade unions it is our duty to ensure that whatever directives we give are well thought out and calculated to serve the best interest of our members at all times,” he stated.

He also intimated that such a directive cannot be merely reactionary and flimsy just to prove a point but be “considered in the broader effect to the businesses and citizens.”

Nana Poku indicated the fact that there is indeed hardship in the country, but that does not warrant traders’ associations to call on their members to close down shops; an action which will eventually affect the traders themselves the more.

He said: “There is no way to sugar coat the heavy financial crisis that is facing the trading industry, especially in the wake of the unbridled shortfalls of the Ghana cedi against the dollar, which has caused untold hardship to our members. We believe in our respectful assessment that, the Ministry of Trade is partly to blame, as it has failed to develop an effective policy framework to help solve such trade issues in the country.”

TAGG however urged its members to Keep Their Shops Open and do what is necessary to put food on the table for their dependents for now, while their leadership pursue other avenues of voicing out their concerns to the government and mounting pressure on them to deal with the challenges traders face.

“After all, there are better ways of getting the government’s attention than to issue directives that will see our members and their dependents starving,” he said.

Adding his voice to the call, President of the Association, Kwadwo Amoateng urged government to, as a matter of urgency, to stabilize the economy by Introducing sustainable policies to protect the trader’s capital and as well, engage traders as key stakeholders of the economy.

“We want to emphasize that, it is well known that traders are the backbone of the Ghanaian economy, therefore government cannot ignore this sector while foreign Multinational companies are given huge TAX HOLIDAYS though most of them repatriate the money to their various home countries; yet local businesses for forced to cough up huge taxes, endure economic hardship and yet get nothing for injecting their profits back into the economy. It is our humble suggestion that in order to solve the current foreign exchange crisis, if a multinational company is given a tax exemption of five (5) years, then that company should not be allowed to repatriate its funds back within that five years period to ensure that monies are injected back into Ghanaian banks and the economy,” he said.

According to TAGG research, the percentage of Ghanaian importers in the country currently is less than (20%), making foreign national importers more than eighty percent (80%).

In view of that, the Association expressed shock and asked “why is the government allowing the activities of foreigners to negatively impact on Ghanaian traders so much? We would like to stress again that, Traders And Members Of TAGG Will Not Close Their Shops Or Businesses.”

He called on the general public to continue to serve their survival needs, fight and mount the necessary pressure on the authorities to lessen the burden of the people.

TAGG, according to him, is asking government to take steps to arrest the black-market money racketeering and enforce the law against those who flout it, implement a policy that can resist a certain threshold which limits how much funds multinational companies can repatriate back home and pricing of local products and services in dollars should be discouraged.

He also averred that, GIPC act which stipulates the various roles to be played by both indigenes and foreign nationals should be enforced whilst a policy framework should be established to help protect local trading.

“Turnkey partnerships should be established so as to curb the high influx of imported goods. The reversal of benchmark values should be reversed back to the 50% previously given by the government. Government and relevant state institutions should help resource businesses so as to be competitive through investment drives,” he said

TAGG however called on Ghanaians to work together to mount pressure on the government to heed to their cry and lamentations in ensuring a sustainable and reasonable solution for their businesses and sources of income to be sustained.

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