Dr Joseph Obeng, President, Ghana Union of Traders Association (GUTA), says Ghana is fast losing huge sums of money and its natural resources due to the porous borders and weak investment laws.
He said the absence of effective border controls made foreigners to enter the country to engage in illegal mining to deplete forest cover and water resources.
Weak investment laws, he added had emboldened many foreigners to repatriate their earnings to their respective countries of origin to venture into illegal foreign exchange trade, milking the country of huge sums of money, which could have been used for national development.
His comment comes in the wake of the lawful remand of Aisha Huang in police custody, due to her return into the country and alleged involvement in illegal mining (galamsey) despite her deportation in 2018.
He told the Ghana News Agency that: “The actions of Aisha Huang in the country are demeaning and disappointing to the people of Ghana, and if care is not taken, people will not also abide by the laws of the country.”
He added: “Foreigners have taken advantage of the porous nature of our borders and abuse our investment laws, and these are all factors that are working against our natural resources.”
Currently, Ghana is facing economic challenges including inflationary pressures, fuel and its attendant transport fare increment and depreciation of the local currency (the Ghana Cedi) against its major trading partner, the US dollar.
Dr Obeng said this could be partly attributed to the weak investment laws, which had made foreigners invade the retail market and goods clearing, with some going to the extent of engaging illegal exchange of currencies.
“Now, we have foreigners who are clearing agents in this country and are not doing the right thing including black market operations [illegal exchange of currencies], and these actions are affecting our foreign exchange,” Dr Obeng further said.
The traders’ union leader, therefore, called on the Government to ensure that “officialdom take drastic action to punish this woman and any other person supporting her, otherwise, it will demoralise the citizens.
“The time has come for the Government to ensure that when the country accepts foreigners, it’s done in civility and guided by laws. If not, we’ll continue to lose our natural resources like gold, which is going outside the shores of the country without the country having the worth of it,” Dr Obeng said.
Already, Professor Emmanuel Kwesi Aning, Security Expert, has asked security services and the law courts to use the needed intelligence and legal powers to ensure that all persons behind Aisha Huang’s illegal activities in the country were punished.
The Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research, Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) said: “Let’s identify the Ghanaians who have facilitated her criminal enterprise, elevate this ability to infiltrate the State and its structures to a treasonable act.”
He noted that if Aisha and her alleged collaborators were not punished by the law: “The signal that it sends is that any other person can come in, use any other means necessary and get access to our leaders.”