THE only way the periodic tension between Ghanaians and their Nigerian counterparts in the retail trade industry can be addressed, is by making Ghanaian retailers competitive, Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, has observed.
According to the MP, the economic conditions in Ghana were unintentionally making the Ghanaian trader uncompetitive.
An example of this economic indicator that made the Ghanaian uncompetitive, Mr Agyapong said, was the high interest rate traders had to contend with.
Mr Agyapong was commenting on a statement made by the MP for Manhyia North, Collins Owusu Amankwa, on the involvement of foreigners in Ghana’s retail industry and its implications.
“Our interest rate is too much,” Mr Amankwa, said, asking “how can you compete with someone with an interest rate of five per cent when you are paying interest rate of about 20 per cent. With this our high interest rate, we cannot compete anywhere in the world.”
He urged traders to boycott the ‘killer’ interest offered by the banks to force the banks to reduce their interest rates.
On the attacks on Nigerian retailers in Suame, Kumasi, about a month ago, Mr Amankwa expressed fear that there could be reprisals on Ghanaian businesses in Nigeria if care was not taken.
Mr Mahama Ayariga, MP for Bawku Central, described the trade dispute as thorny, and asked that the issue was approached with care and tact.
He said the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) protocols which makes West Africans common citizens within the sub region, as supported by Article 73 of the 1992 Constitution, gives ECOWAS citizens the trading and movement rights.
To address the problem, Mr Ayariga asked both the Nigerian and Ghanaian retail traders to solve the problem through the court system.
Genuine economic interests, he said, were being threatened by the ECOWAS protocols and these threats must be addressed.
Mr Ayariga said the approach adopted by Ghanaian retail traders in relation with the tension that erupted between the Ghanaian and Nigerian traders, were “unlawful and arbitrary, and to say the least does not bode well for the long standing relations between the two sister countries.”
He called on the parties involved in the trade dispute to exercise restraint in dealing with the matter, and be circumspect with their utterances, actions and statements in order not to inflame passions, which may have the potential to escalate the impasse.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI