The Inspector General of Police (IGP), George Akuffo-Dampare, has assured the Ghana Union of Traders’ Association (GUTA) and local businesses of a secure and safe environment for business activities ahead of the upcoming Christmas and New Year.
He gave the assurance during an engagement with the leaders and representatives of GUTA at the Police Headquarters in Accra. It was part of a stakeholder initiative to promote security during the holiday season.
The IGP acknowledged the importance of a thriving business environment during the holidays, which significantly contributes to the country’s economy and job creation.
Dr. Akuffo-Dampare outlined the measures being taken to ensure the safety and security of the traders in the country. He said the police force would increase its visibility throughout all cities, particularly in commercial districts, markets, and shopping areas.
He told the GUTA representatives that additional patrols would be deployed to deter criminal activity and respond promptly to any incidents.
He said the police would work in collaboration with GUTA and other trade associations to establish and monitor security measures within marketplaces, offering valuable protection to traders and shoppers.
He disclosed that additional resources and personnel would be deployed to strategic locations to maintain law and order.
“We are putting measures in place to combat any potential security threats during the Christmas and New Year period. Our officers will be on high alert, patrolling commercial areas and collaborating with local businesses to address their security concerns,” the IGP stated.
He told the GUTA representatives that law enforcement agencies were committed to “killing the snake and cutting off its head entirely,” referring to the determination to eliminate criminal elements and ensure a peaceful and secure festive season.
The IGP stressed the importance of preemptive action, and urged GUTA to join hands with the police to address security concerns before any untoward incidents occur.
“We shouldn’t wait for something to happen before dealing with these miscreants in the country. I know the nature of the work of GUTA, and that it is through their tax payments that enable the Police to have uniforms to wear and even salaries for ourselves at the end of the month,” he indicated.
Emphasising the symbiotic relationship between law enforcement and traders, the IGP highlighted the significance of GUTA’s work in contributing to the well-being of the nation. “When the work of GUTA goes well, that is when we also do well. We want to look at ways GUTA can show us so we, the Police, can assist you in every way possible to promote your protection and ensure your security,” he stressed.
The IGP urged business owners and traders to maintain open lines of communication with their local police stations, and report any security concerns promptly. He also reminded the public of the importance of personal safety, encouraging shoppers to stay vigilant and safeguard their personal belongings.
For his part, the President of GUTA, Dr. Joseph Obeng, described the meeting as historic, marking a new era of collaboration between the trading community and law enforcement.
“We are very grateful to the IGP for his willingness to engage with us on these pressing matters. The words of the IGP come as a welcome relief to traders and business owners in Ghana who are gearing up for the peak shopping season,” he said.
Dr. Obeng touched on crucial issues facing traders and business owners in the country, especially in the lead up to the busy shopping season. He stressed the need for relevant investment laws in the country and within the industry space to spur an effective and timely economic rebound.
He told the police leadership that it is time for the government to apply the country’s investment laws to contain and guide importation and foreigners, particularly through retaining funds, rather than expatriating them to their countries.
Dr. Obeng further advocated that some retention policies be made where some of the most profitable areas of the economy, such as gold, oil, among others, should be in the hands of Ghanaians. He urged the Police to step up efforts to ensure the safety of local markets.
He urged the government to take conscious efforts to invest in some of these profitable areas under public-private partnerships in ensuring a retention policy of about 40%.
“It shouldn’t just happen that they come and set up their businesses and change the money and repatriate it to the detriment of Ghana’s economy.
“Since these foreigners are big and represent the manufacturers, if we are making these expatriates engage in trade, then we should also make it mandatory for them to provide foreign exchange to import rather than solicit funds from our central bank,” he stressed.
He said every country has laws and regulations that cover investments by foreigners, adding “these laws are specific on trade and businesses that foreigners can engage in and those to be handled exclusively by the citizens.”
He also argued that while some of the foreign firms and traders are importing substantial products into the country, “they do not even keep half of the proceeds here in Ghana”.
“Foreigners are doing about 85% of the imports into this country. At the end of the day, this poses a threat to our foreign reserve as they equally take all the profits out of the country. This also has to do with our investment laws, which need to be applied to check importation. I plead with you to collaborate with various trade bodies to tackle this challenge,” he urged the Police leadership.