Ghana: Business At Standstill in Accra… As GUTA Members Close Shops in Protests Against High Cost of Doing Business

Members of the Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA) in Accra yesterday closed their shops in protest ofthe high cost of doing business in recent times.

The action came off despite the effort of the Council of State to convince the Association to rescind its decision on Tuesday.

GUTA, in a press briefing on Tuesday, noted the protest had been necessitated by rising inflation and the depreciation of the Ghanaian Cedi, which had resulted in the high cost of doing business.

It said its protest in Accra followed the close-down of shops in Kumasi from Monday to Friday, last week due to the implementation of policies concerning value Added Tax (VAT) and that the current action would last five days.

During its rounds in Accra yesterday, the Ghanaian Times found that business activities in the Central Business District (CBD), Kaneshie and Odorkor had slowed down as most shops had been closed.

Some traders seated in front of their closed shops told the paper that the economic hardship in the country was negatively impacting their businesses.

A bag vendor at the CBD, Isaac Aboagye Darkwah, said the protest was a signal to the government to have a sense of urgency to salvage the situation.

He said things were quickly getting out of hand and something had to be done as a matter of urgency.

Akosua Assan, a grocery wholesaler at Rawlings Park in the CBD, said the government had to stop the depreciation of the cedi and the high rate of inflation to reduce the hardships faced by Ghanaians.

Ms Grace Larbi, who sells provisions at Kaneshie, said the ever-rising prices of her items were reducing her purchasing power and thus reducing her profit, a situation which undermined her ability to support her family.

“Things are expensive in town. Last week, I went to town to stock my shop with provisions but the prices had gone up too high, about three times just a week after I last bought some items, making it difficult for me to purchase enough items to sell,” she added.

Also at Kaneshie, a home appliance vendor, Kwasi Appiah, said though traders would lose some income within the five days that they had to close their shops, he was hopeful that would make the government salvage the situation.

“I sell television sets, and since the prices are unstable, getting people to purchase them is a problem, making the market slow,” he said.

Kwasi Phobia at Odorkor, who was selling his goods (shoes) in front of his closed shop, said he was in full support of the protest but was hopeful that the economic turmoil experienced in the country would soon be over.

Meanwhile, Agnes Quashie, who had her shop partly closed, stated that as much as she supported the idea of the association, she could not fully lock the shop because she would be unable to pay the loan she had taken for the business.

“I have gone for a loan for my business and if I close the shop for a day and not sell to make payments to the collectors, I would be charged a penalty and if I don’t pay it, my things would be seized,” she explained.

DANIEL DZIRASAH reports from the Bono Region that traders and shop owners in the Sunyani Municipality have defied the orders by the national executive of GUTA to close down their shops.

During a visit to the Central Business District of the Municipality at 11 a.m., the Ghanaian Times found shops opened for business activities.

Mr Frank Osei, a hardware dealer, complained of poor sales and depreciation of the cedis affecting his business and appeal to the government to address the current situation of the economy.

AMA TEKYIWAA AMPADU AGYEMAN reports from the Eastern Regional capital, Koforidua that shops remained opened in Koforidua in spite of the directive given to GUTA members to close their shops.

According to the Eastern Regional Chairman of GUTA, Mr Harry Awuku, members in the region would not close their shops, because they were following a roadmap given by the association.

“We decided that the Accra shops would close first while we monitor happenings awaiting the decisions of the government and leaders of the Association,” he said.

LYDIA DARLINGTON FORDJOUR reports from Wa that traders and shop owners were still going about their normal business.

The Ghanaian Times first checked at 9:30a.m.and again at 3:45p.m.and shops were opened and business going on as usual.

Some of the traders stated in an interview that they were not even aware of the directive and could therefore not comply with it.

A dealer in children’s wear at WaZongo, Vera Mwin, said she believed the directive was meant for other regions other than Upper West as she had only learnt about it in the news.

“In any case, some of us will go hungry if we do not operate for even a day, so even if the directive came, I would still have opened my shop because those giving the directives have monies stashed up in banks that they can depend on,” she said.

A trader in motorcycles and tricycles, MrJinsung Rashid, said he was not aware of any such directive.

From Ho inthe Volta Regional capital, KAFUI GATI reports that business was going on as usual.

When the Ghanaian Times went round the Ho Central Market and some shops in town like Melcom and Stadium Gate Shopping Mall yesterday, most traders were seen doing business.

Even though they complained that sales were very slow and their businesses were collapsing due to high interest and exchange rate pressures, they could not deny consumers their needs.

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