MINISTER FOR Trade and Industry, Kobina Tahir Hammond, has presented a bill to Parliament aimed at restricting the importation of several products, in a bid to promote local industries and protect the economy.
The proposed legislation includes a range of items such as rice, offals locally called ‘yemu adie’, cement, sugar, canned tomatoes, soft drinks, mineral water, ceramic tiles, mosquito coils and insecticides.
If the bill successfully gets passed, importers of these specified products would be required to obtain a certificate of clearance from the government. The move is part of the government’s broader strategy to reduce reliance on imported goods and boost local production.
Speaking at a press conference, Mr. Hammond emphasised the need to protect domestic industries and stimulate economic growth.
He stated, “The proposed restrictions aim to provide a level playing field for local producers and encourage the consumption of locally made goods. Our goal is to strengthen the economy, create job opportunities, and reduce the trade deficit.”
The government’s decision to restrict the importation of these items comes after careful consideration of various factors, including the capacity of local industries to meet demand, the impact on employment, and the overall economic implications.
Minister Hammond assured the public that the government would work closely with relevant stakeholders to ensure a smooth transition and minimise any potential disruptions in the supply chain.
The proposed bill has sparked mixed reactions among different segments of society. Supporters argue that the restrictions will protect local industries, promote self-sufficiency, and encourage the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises.
They believe that reducing imports will lead to increased production, improved quality control, and ultimately benefit consumers by providing them with more affordable and locally made alternatives.
However, critics express concerns over potential consequences such as increased prices, limited product choices, and the possibility of market monopolies. They argue that restrictions could negatively impact consumers, particularly those who rely on imported goods due to affordability or specific dietary needs.
Earlier, the minister revealed the Legislative Instrument (L.I) intending to restrict the importation of selected strategic products into the country would target about 20 commodities.
“The items, numbering over 20, will include rice, tripe (popularly called “yemu adie’” in Ghana), and diapers,” Mr. Hammond revealed at a press conference in Parliament.
He, therefore, explained that the restriction was part of the government’s efforts to enhance local production.
“… Stomach of animals, bladder and the chunk of intestines (yemu adie), the country had had to put in an amount of about $164 million towards the importation of these items. We are taking steps to ensure that in terms of rice, there is no poverty of rice in the country,” he said.
“By these restrictions, we are not going to ensure that there’s no food in the country at all; that is not the point at all. There must be some government efforts to ensure we go back to Acheampong’s operation feed ourselves. There are about 22 items on the list, one of them, I think, is diapers,” he told the Parliamentary Press Corps.
The Trade and Industry Minister also announced the introduction of the Ghana Standards Authority Regulations 2023, which would streamline the manufacturing of cement to ensure competitive pricing.
The bill will now undergo a thorough review and debate in parliament, where lawmakers will assess its potential impact on the economy, trade relations, and consumer welfare.
As the discussions unfold, stakeholders from various sectors will closely monitor the progress of the bill, analysing its potential implications for both the economy and consumers.
By Vincent Kubi