The Small Scale Rice Dealers Association of Ghana (SSRIDA-GH), on Thursday said the assertion by Ministry of Trade and Industry that the total ban of rice importation is detrimental to the state is not nationalistic.
The media report attributed to Mr Ibrahim Murtala, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry said Ghana’s rice self sufficiency is about 30 per cent and government consider as a high priority to see the country productivity high.
He however said a total ban on rice importation is not the ideal thing to do and would also be in violation of World Trade Organisation regulations.
Mr Murtala said the country must also improve the quality and quantity of rice production.
The Minister was reacting to a call by SSRIDA-GH to Ministry of Trade and Industry to ensure an outright ban of rice importation.
It said the ban on inland rice importation is not only having negative impact on the traders but also discriminatory and in favour of the major players in the industry.
A statement issued by Yaw Korang, National Coordinator of SSRIDA-GH said given monopoly of large scale importation of the commodity to foreigners is unfair, and so if government finds it untenable for small-scale rice dealers to be in business then an outright ban would be necessary .
“The ban as it stands now is pushing poor Ghanaians out of business and helping foreign traders to thrive,” the statement.
The statement said the ministry on October 14, 2013 served a notice of ban on inland importation of rice stating that with effect from November 1, 2013, all imports of rice shall be done through only the Kotoka International Airport, Tema and Takoradi Ports.
“This directive gave SSRIDA-GH only two weeks ultimatum to fold up our trading business through the border. As petty traders, our capital base would not allow us to do our business through the air or by the sea. The directive also came at a time when we had made orders with loans for goods for the Christmas festivity.
“We humbly wish to state that our business is only a threat to the monopoly being practiced by foreign rice importers, whose activities are a threat to the nation`s economy because they do the importation under the cover of warehousing and sell their products for high prices in dollar equivalence before paying their revenue and sometimes run-off without paying.
“We do our business in the CFA-FRANC and pay our duty into the consolidated fund at the borders before we are allowed to bring our goods into the country to sell.
The statement asked Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, the sector Minister to review the ban on inland importation of rice or prohibit the trade in Ghana.
However another statement by the SSRIDA-Ghana says the 500 million dollars spent annually to import rice is a drain to the national economy and could be used to step up the productivity of the crop.
It said great rice producing nations like Thailand dreamt big and were nationalistic enough to go great length to achieve the feat.
The statement said: “Nigeria was able to do it and now local rice is in high demand in the West African nation.”
It said for the Ministry to say that total ban of rice importation is not feasible is “too simplistic, unpatriotic and uninspiring. It can be done if we embrace the challenge”, the statement said. GNA