Executives and members of the 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, Yaw Osafo- Maafo, a three-week 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 the Ghana Police Service do not stop their nefarious activities, they will hit the streets.
According to the groups, activities of some personnel from the Customs GRA, National Security, BNI, Ghana Police Service, and illegal task-forces formed by some notable persons within the NPP including Mr Osafo-Maafo’s ‘Task-Force and the Presidential Task-Force were 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, personnel from the security agencies, believed to operating from the office of the senior minister and office of the president have been intimidating, beating as well as confiscating their goods without any justification.
Addressing the media, the Deputy Secretary of KCMIA, Nana Yaw Osei, revealed that apart from the weak cedi, high import duties, coupled with the dollarisation system being operated by the GRA, which are having negative effects on their businesses, their biggest nightmares currently were the operations of the illegal task-force groups.
According to him, some of these illegal task-forces are Presidential Task Force, Osafo Maafo’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 were collapsing their businesses.
He said they have made every effort to draw the attention of the powers-that-be but have had no positive feedback.
When asked if any of his members were engaging in criminal activities of 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, were just on an extortion spree and nothing meaningful to improve the revenue collections of the nation.
He maintained that members of the association do not engage in any illegal act to warrant the shabby and inhuman treatment at the hands of the country’s security agencies.
“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 election.
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 of business because they (the 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 chase 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 to the economy.
Again, they want government to reduce high import duties, as well as stop the dollarisation system customs and other financial institutions were currently using to charge duties at the various ports and entry points.
When asked what they will do if the President fails 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, ASHANTI REGION
Writer’s email: email@example.com