Blame Ghana Union Traders Association for foreigners in the retail sector – former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry

A former Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Murtala Mohammed says the leadership of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) must be blamed for the influx of foreigners in Ghana’s retail sector.

Murtala Ibrahim Mohammed

In an interview with Accra FM, Mohammed revealed that during his time at the Trade Ministry, officials from GUTA, GIPC and the ministry itself were trained by the Judiciary and also given prosecutorial powers to arrest all Ghanaians fronting for foreigners in the retail sector but nothing happened despite their numerous complaints of foreigners invading their retail sector.

He added that they did this after numerous complaints of mistrust between the GIPC and GUTA.

“GUTA thought the GIPC was behind the foreigners who were engaged in retailing and that GIPC were unwilling to implement the law and, so, we decided that if that is the case, we will add GUTA members to the training and give them the prosecutorial powers to arrest the people they know are engaged in the illegal business, but they were not able to prosecute one person years after the training.”

“I will blame GUTA. I dealt directly with GUTA, I had 24/7 interactions with them. When we were at the Ministry, we never took any decision about petty traders without involving GUTA. For a very long time, they expressed the concern that we need to enforce the laws. They accused the GIPC of dragging its feet in implementing the laws and also that GIPC is conniving with the Nigerians. Following that, I had meetings with GIPC and GUTA.”

“My Minister, Dr Ekow Spio-Garbrah and I had an interaction with the Chief Justice and the Chief Justice advised that we could train prosecutors from the ministry so that they will have the capacity to prosecute. We didn’t want to train officials from the ministry alone, so, we told GUTA and GIPC to give us representatives and I remember GUTA gave us people who later were trained as prosecutors as part of our programme,” he added.

He further indicated that they told GUTA that since they were the ones dealing directly with the traders, they will know who is involved in the illegality.

“In some of the meetings I had with them, they told me and admitted that a lot of the foreigners are being fronted for by Ghanaians who are members of GUTA. I then told them that I wouldn’t be able to know who is fronting for the foreigners, so, they should go ahead and arrest and prosecute them because they have been trained and given the powers to do it. I also told them if they could not prosecute, they should tell us at the ministry who the people were so we prosecute them from the ministry but not a single person was brought.”

However, “they never brought one person to be prosecuted yet they always make claims that Ghanaians are fronting for foreigners. So, sometimes when I listen to GUTA, I feel extremely shocked.”

His comment is coming a few days after GUTA threatened to fight back if the authorities continue to harass its members who are fighting against the invasion of the retail market by foreigners.

The union wants the government to work in its favour and deal with the foreigners flouting the rules.

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