The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Minority in Parliament has made an urgent appeal to various sectors including the media, religious leaders, trade unions, civil society organizations, and all well-meaning Ghanaians to rally support against the government’s implementation of import restrictions.
During the “Moment of Truth Series” held in Accra on December 6, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, expressed concern about the proposed legislative instrument (L.I) on Export and Imports (Restrictions on the Importation of Selected Strategic Products Regulations). He asserted that the legislation, if passed, could foster corruption and hamper progress in the country.
Dr. Forson emphasized the need for collective action, stating, “The NDC minority has fought enough in Parliament and if you do not join us, we cannot win the fight. It is the battle for the people of Ghana.”
Highlighting the potential consequences if the L.I. were to proceed unchecked, he mentioned the subsequent challenges of reversing it, stating that once laid before Parliament, it could become law within 21 working days and would require a two-thirds majority in Parliament to overturn.
The proposed Export and Import L.I. aims to grant the Minister of Trade and Industry exclusive authority to issue licenses for the importation of 22 items into the country, ranging from essential goods like rice, poultry, oils, and beverages to other commodities such as cars, textiles, and aluminum products.
Dr. Forson clarified that the NDC is not against measures to safeguard local industries but strongly opposes giving unchecked discretionary powers to a single entity without adequate checks and balances. He proposed transparent alternatives like a quota system for importation or the implementation of tariffs and non-tariff measures to promote locally made products.
Moreover, Dr. Forson voiced concerns about additional tax measures slated for the 2024 budget, including VAT on non-life insurance, domestic air travel, and various other increases in stamp duty rates and excise duties on beverages and carbon emissions from industries.
The Minority Leader highlighted the detrimental effects of these impending tax increases on the already challenging circumstances faced by Ghanaians, urging for scrutiny and a reconsideration of these financial measures.