Gov't Spends US$10.8 Billion On Importation Each Year - NPP MP Justifies Restriction on Food Importation

Afigya Kwabre North Member of Parliament (MP), Collins Adomako-Mensah, has supported the government's intent to restrict the importation of some food commodities.

The Minister of Trade, Kobina Tahir Hammond, is pushing a regulation in the hope of boosting Ghana's currency and local industries.

This regulation will restrict the importation of rice, fruit juice, margarine, cement, fish, sugar, and 16 other "strategic products."

But this initiative has been met with fierce opposition from the minority in Parliament and some business associations.

Addressing journalists on Thursday, November 22, the Minority Leader described the regulation as a bad policy and called for its immediate withdrawal.

“We are urging the President to have a rethink because this is not a policy that we should encourage, and they have to withdraw it,” he implored.

A Joint Business Consultative Forum comprising associations such as the Ghana Union of Traders Associations (GUTA), Food and Beverages Association of Ghana (FABAG), Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Ghana Institute of Freight Forwarders (GIFF), Chamber of Automobile Dealership Ghana (CADEG), and Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GNCCI) have also opposed the bill, arguing it would have detrimental effects on their businesses.

The associations have therefore submitted a petition to Parliament urging the House to reject the import restrictions bill proposed by the government through the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

But Hon. Collins Adomako-Mensah believes the restrictions are what the nation needs to help local businesses grow and strengthen the cedi.

Speaking on Peace FM's "Kokrokoo" morning show, the MP gave a breakdown of the commodities imported into Ghana, shockingly revealing that the state spends 10.8 billion dollars each year on importation.

Listing the major imports and costs involved, he enumerated that every year the government spends $164 million to import tripe, $200 million on beverages, $100 million on toilet papers and tissues, $100 million on fresh tomatoes, $800 million on rice, $300 million on sugar.

Other products include poultry and meat, with its import costs being $400 million, $250 million on textiles and apparel, $300 million on cooking oil, $200 million on tiles and ceramics, $500 million to import plastics, $600 million on the importation of papers, $600 million on iron and steels, $250 million on furniture, and $900 million on home appliances.

The bigger fraction of the cost goes into the importation of tin tomatoes, cars, and spare parts, which cost $1 billion and $2 billion, respectively, Hon. Collins Adomako-Mensah disclosed.

"These are the monies we spend to import these things each year...All these things I have stated are quoted in dollars, not cedis. What it means is that we have to make sure that we have this import cover to ensure that when a trader wants to import something, government should be able to or must make sure that it has this amount of dollars", he stated.

"Once you continue to transfer the money outside, you are creating jobs outside," he added, and he asked the host, Kwami Sefa Kayi; "Is it still shocking to you that there is pressure on our cedi?"

To him, when the government restricts imports, "businessmen in Ghana can see an opportunity out of it," hence enhancing local production.

He, however, called on the government to hold a stakeholder meeting to keep the associations, especially the opposing parties, abreast of the policy.