Executives and members of Kumasi Central Market Importers Association (KCMIA) and Eastern Corridor Importer Association (ECIA) have given the President, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo and the Senior Minister Mr Yaw Osafo Marfo three weeks ultimatum to call their illegal task-forces whom they say have been harassing them (importers) to order.
They warned government that if its agencies like: the Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), National Security, illegal task-forces and Ghana Police Service do not stop their nefarious activities, they will hit the streets.
According to the groups, activities of some personal from the Customs GRA, National Security, BNI, Ghana Police Service, and illegal task forces formed by some notable persons in New Patriotic Party (NPP) including the Mr Osafo Marfo’s Task-Force and the Presidential Task Force are gradually pushing them out of business.
The Executives of KCMIA and ECIA in a joint press conference held in the Ashanti Regional capital, Kumasi, alleged that some Custom officials, personals from the security agencies, and all the illegal Task-Force groups believed to operating from the office of the Senior Minister and office of the President have been intimidating, beaten, as well as confiscating their goods without any justification.
Some members of KCMIA and ECIA seated at the Press Conference in Kumasi
Addressing the media, the Deputy Secretary of KCMIA, Nana Yaw Osei, revealed that apart from the weak cedi, high import duties, coupled with the dollarization system being operated by the GRA, which are having negative effects on their businesses, their biggest nightmares currently are the operations of the illegal Task-Force groups such as the Nana Addo Task force dubbed Presidential Task Force, Osafo Marfo’s Task-Force led by ( one Otabil & Appiah), Souveilant Squad led by one Kodua, Boniface Boys, the Dan Koffie Boys, and the over 26 illegal barriers, and check-points between Aflao to Kumasi.
Nana Yaw Osei pointed out that the activities of the illegal task forces, Custom officials, BNI, National Security and other security agencies was collapsing their businesses.
He said they have made every effort to draw attention of the powers that be but their efforts have yielded no positive result.
When asked if any of his members were engaging in any criminal activities to which the state security agencies have been hard on them, the KCMIA Deputy Secretary denied claims that members of the associations engaged in some illegal activities such as paying little or no duties on imported goods, smuggling etc. he was of the view that the security operatives especially the task forces, are just on extortion spree and nothing meaningful to improve the revenue collections of the nation.
He maintained that members of the associations do not engage in any illegal act to warrant the shabby and inhuman treatment they have been suffering at the hands of the country’s security apparatus.
“Ladies and Gentlemen of the press, let me stress that we have been law abiding citizens, we are genuine business men and women who have been going about our businesses according to the laws of Ghana and have been contributing to the development of Ghana” Nana Yaw Osei said.
He hinted that some Customs officials have been abusing them verbally for being part of the groups which waged a campaign for a regime change in 2016 as well as providing financial support to aid the NPP win the 2016 general elections.
According him some Customs officials especially those at Ghana’s entry points have openly sworn ‘heaven and hell’ to ensure that our members are out business because they (Customs officials) claimed we voted foolishly during election 2016.
“These are the words of the Customs officials: You people have not seen anything yet, you people voted foolishly for NPP and Nana Addo, we will ‘quadruple’ the duties you are to pay on your goods and if you fail to pay we will chased you out of business” the KCMIA Deputy Secretary alleged.
Apart from their call on the president to dissolve all the illegal task forces and also remove the illegal barriers, and check-points between Aflao to Kumasi, the group also tasked the government economic and the finance minister to work on the ‘ailing cedi’ to bring stability in the economy.
Again, they want government to reduce high import duties, as well as to stop the dollarization system Customs and other financial institutions are currently using to charge duties at the various ports and entry points.
When ask what they will do if the president fail to heed to their call, Nana Yaw Osei responded in the affirmative, saying “we are giving ourselves now till the end of March 2019 and if nothing is done we will hit the streets in a grand style”.
Story: Franklin ASARE-DONKOH, Back from Kumasi
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