Trade Ministry misinformed Presidency — (TEGLEU) pg 49

• Mr Abraham Koomson (standing) addressing the press conference while other officials of the Ghana Federation of Labour look on.

• Mr Abraham Koomson (standing) addressing the press conference while other officials of the Ghana Federation of Labour look on.

The Textile Garment and Leather Employees Union (TEGLEU) of the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL) has accused the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) of misinforming the Presidency about the work of the task force established to curb textile piracy in the country.

“The complicity of government is very clear in this issue. The Ministry of Trade is condoning the illegal activities of people pirating local textiles at the expense of the local industry,” Mr Abraham Koomson, the Secretary-General of Ghana Federation of Labour, said at a news conference in Accra yesterday.

At his maiden media encounter on January 7,  2014, President John Dramani Mahama justified the decision of MoTI to suspend the activities of the Anti-Piracy Task Force which had been monitoring the movement of textiles smuggled into Ghana.

President Mahama’s recommendations

The President had, among other things, suggested the use of tax stickers on textile prints to easily detect the smuggled ones, the need to educate textile traders on the harmful effects of their activities on the economy and the need for the task force to focus on checks at the entry points and prevent the pirated products from getting into the country/markets.

The President also observed that the operations of the task force in the markets were misplaced as poor/innocent traders struggling to make their living through petty trading were unreasonably harassed.

The task force was inaugurated in August 2010 and mandated to monitor the movement of smuggled fabrics, target relevant warehouses and seize pirated and smuggled textiles for destruction, to deter the dealers and others who may be tempted to deal in such goods.

However, on December 24 last year, its operations were suspended; a decision the Trade and Industry Ministry attributed to harassment of traders in the various markets, whose textiles were sometimes confiscated by the task force.

Mr Koomson reacts

But Mr Koomson insisted that the points raised by the President were issues that had been discussed since 2003 and some had been implemented but were  unsuccessful.

he said the issues had been deliberated exhaustively by MoTI and other stakeholders, culminating in the adoption of the report of the Revenue Agencies Governing Board (RAGB) dated August 25, 2003.

Among other things, the report  recommended an immediate temporary restriction on the importation of all finished printed textile goods into the country, streamlining and mounting surveillance on the activities of the destination inspecting companies, seizure of goods without the necessary import duties and ensuring that imports were restricted to approved entry points.

Textile industry 

From over 40 textile firms that employed more than 25,000 people in the last two decades, the country now has only four textile factories employing less than 4,000 people.  The country, according to available information, is losing about GH¢30 million in revenue annually through the smuggling of textile materials.

Mr Koomson cautioned that “An eventual layoff of workers could happen if government did not intervene.”

“ If traders do not patronise these pirated and smuggled fabrics, the markets would be rid of these products and therefore, the task force would be redundant,” he added.

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