Minority welcomes gov’t’s decision to  suspend  Import Restrictions bill 

Story: Reuben Sackey 

The Minority in Parliament has expressed relief following the government’s decision to suspend the introduction of import restriction regulations.

The caucus strongly opposed the regulations, citing concerns about potential corruption and economic harm.

In a statement released on December 8, 2023, the Minority criticized the regulations for granting the Trade Minister excessive discretionary power over import licenses and quantities without proper checks and balances. They expressed concern that this power could lead to corruption, abuse of power, and state capture.

“Minority has always maintained that these regulations will breed corruption, because not only are they arbitrary and opaque but they are designed to encourage the arbitrary exercise of discretionary power in the hands of one person, particularly the Minister of Trade and Industry.”

“We have argued that by vesting too much unfettered and unchecked power in the Minister to determine who qualifies or not to be granted a permit to import into the country as many as twenty (24) commodities, the regulations lend themselves to abuse of power, state capture and rent-seeking conduct reminiscent of the days of ‘essential commodities’ and ‘price control’.”

The caucus said its principle was not against any legal regime or policy that sought to protect indigenous businesses by regulating imports but what it was against was a law that conferred unfettered discretionary power on the Minister of Trade, to issue import licenses and to restrict the quantity of certain imports into the country, without any checks and balances.

“It defied sound logic for this Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to seek to restrict imports contrary to what it had signed on to about Ghana’s current IMF programme. One of the quantitative performance criteria in Ghana’s current IMF bailout is a requirement to avoid imposing or intensifying restrictions on imports for balance of payment reasons.

At a time Ghanaians are facing extreme misery and reeling under countless taxes, including those contained in the 2024 Budget, we do not consider it right that the government would introduce import restrictions that will fuel inflation and hoarding,” it stated.

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