The influx of foreign retailers in the country is not only putting Ghanaians out of business but also increasing rent charges astronomically especially in the central business district of Accra. These concerns came to light when Onua Business news spoke to some traders in Accra.
These traders have shops in areas including Tudu, Okaishie Cowlane, Makola and Rawlings Park. They recounted how landlords in the Central Business District of Accra have increased their rent charges in some cases by over 300%. This is because these foreign retailers are ready to pay the exorbitant rent charges. According to one of the traders, her landlord has increased the rent for the shop she currently occupies from GH 100,000 to GH 380,000 as rent advance for five years. This has increased her operational cost and fears she may be priced out of business. She is blaming incredible offers from foreigners that landlords find irresistible for her woes. The traders also added that sometimes they are approached by these desperate foreign retailers to rent out their shops to them at the blind side their landlords.
The president of the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) Dr. Ofori Ameyaw has also confirmed the concerns of the traders to Onua business. According to him, GUTA has over the years engaged government to flush out these foreign retailers, however not much has been achieved. The Minister for Trade and Industry, Ekwow Spio Gabrah had asked GUTA for more evidence to buttress claims that foreign retailers are still operating in the country. GUTA accepted the challenge and last week visited some of the shops being operated by foreigners in the Central Business District of Accra with journalists.
The two hour tour took the team to dozens of retail shops being operated by foreigners, predominantly the Chinese. They were selling goods such as plastic kitchen ware, shoes and travelling bags. GIPC Act 2013 (Act 863) allows only foreign retail businesses with a minimum capital of One million dollars to operate in the country. The figure was initially three hundred thousand dollars but was revised with the new Act. The revision was made to among others make it more difficult for foreigners to engage in retail reserved for Ghanaian citizens, however, the law is being flouted with impunity due to poor enforcement.