THE Small Scale Rice Dealers Association (SSRIDA), has called on the Ministry of Trade and Industry to rescue members of the association from the hardship imposed on them through the ban on inland importation of rice since last year.
The association said the ban had caused the livelihood of about 5,000 of its members nationwide.
A statement issued by Yaw Korang, National Co-ordinator of SSRIDA to the Minister of Trade and Industry and copied to the Ghana press in Accra said the ban which had given monopoly to foreign importers of the commodity, was not effected through proper consultation with its members and was calculated to collapse local businesses.
The statement said: “Our business is only a threat to the monopoly being practised by foreign rice importers whose activities are a threat to the nation’s economy because they do their importation under the cover of warehousing and sell their product for high prices in dollar equivalence before paying their revenue and sometimes even run-off without paying.”
The association said its members do their business in the CFA- FRANC and pay their duty into the consolidated fund at the borders before they were allowed to bring their goods into the country and sell them for less profit.
“We humbly call on your high office to review the ban as it is affecting the traders and the general living conditions of the masses and image of the government,” the statement said.
It would be recalled that the Trade Ministry on October 14, 2013 directed that all importation of rice into the country must be done through the airport or by sea.
According to the Trade Ministry, the policy was intended to provide a framework of administrative procedures through which the numerous unfair trade practices, including evasion of import duties and other taxes, under-invoicing, infringement of trademarks and smuggling, shall be controlled.
Market watchers lauded the move because it believed that inland importation of rice through neighbouring countries involves numerous unfair trade practices, including evasion of import duties and other taxes, under-invoicing, infringement of trademarks, and smuggling.
The market watchers said the absence of cheap smuggled rice, which is sold below market rates of both locally produced rice and legally imported rice, is contributing significantly to the demand for local rice.
They believe that the development is a major incentive for local rice production and should motivate farmers to produce more.