The Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, says the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) is not against any Legislative Instrument (L.I) that seeks to protect Ghanaian businesses but against any L.I that seeks to promote corruption and bring hardships on Ghanaians.
He said the governing New Patriotic Party under the leadership of President Akufo-Addo will bring untold hardship on Ghanaians should the new L.I on import and export restrictions be passed in its current form.
Speaking at a press conference held at the NDC Adabraka office in Accra on Wednesday afternoon, December 6, 2023, Dr Ato Forson said giving the Minister of Trade the absolute power to decide how much goods one can import will lead to absolute corruption.
The L.I. will compel importers of 22 restricted items, including poultry, rice, sugar, and diapers to seek licences from a committee to be set up by the minister.
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.
Dr Ato Forson said when passed, the L.I could be used as a tool to frustrate business concerns of people who belong to other political affiliations.
He also expressed the concern that currently Ghana does not have the capacity to produce the products the new L.I is seeking to restrict.
"It is instructive to note that, currently, Ghana does not have any significant local capacity to produce some of the “strategic products” listed under the First Schedule of the proposed LI such as sugar, among others," he said, adding "Neither has the government outlined any specific interventions or incentives to promote the local production of such products."
"Let me make it clear, that in principle, the NDC is not against any legal regime or policy that seeks to protect indigenous businesses by regulating imports. What we are vehemently against, is a law that confers unfettered discretionary power on a single individual, in this case a Minister of Trade, to issue import licenses and to restrict the quantity of certain imports into the country, without any checks and balances," Dr Ato Forson explained.
He said such laws often breed corruption and cronyism and can easily be abused to create a monopoly for some few individuals.
For him, the proposed Import Restrictions Regulations of "the failed Akufo-Addo/Bawumia NPP government", seeks to grant unchecked discretionary power to the Minister for Trade, to solely determine whether or not, to issue an import license to a person and to restrict the quantity of certain imports into the country, as he deems fit.