The government in an effort to stop the influx of pirated textiles on the local market has adopted some strategies to curb the phenomenon which is gradually threatening the survival of the local textile companies.
Trade and Industry Minister, Mr Alan Kyerematenhas revealed that, plans of government to combat the textile piracy include the introduction of tax stamps for the local textile and garment industry. Government is also considering getting Chinese investors who produce textiles in China to invest in the textile industry in Ghana, by establishing their textile printing factories in Ghana. This will give government control over their operations as a way of combating pirated textiles.
Government has already giving textile traders a three month ultimatum to clear old stocks then start the implementation of the textile tax stamp policy.The tax stamp policy is therefore to be effective from September this year.
This is to avoid seizure by an anti-piracy taskforce put together by the Trade Ministry and the Industrial and Commercial Workers’ Union (ICU).
At a joint press conference on happenings in the textile industry last week in Accra, Mr Kyerematen said failure to affix the stamp will warrant severe sanctions.
Mr Kyerematen noted that government was doing everything in the interest of all parties to solve the issue of pirated textiles.
He explained that government was ready to roll out a comprehensive strategy aimed at combating pirated textiles.
These measures are expected to bring a lasting solution to the smuggling and counterfeiting of fabrics in the country.
“As a government, we are committed to solving the issue of piracy,” he stressed.
Other measures, he stated includes government providing stimulus packages to textile traders to offer them some relief in their business.
He admitted that measures outlined in the past in the fight against pirated textiles had not yielded appreciable results and there was the need to think outside the box.
“Apart from making sure that government earns the revenue, it will also be necessary that the government regulates the trade in this sector particularly in the markets and retail centres…every textile will have tax stamp to be issued by the Finance Ministry…Once this is done, it is easier to identify the pirated goods in the sector,” he stated.
The four textiles manufacturing companies operating in the country currently including Volta Star and GTP, have had to lay off workers due to high operational cost and their inability to compete favorably in the market.
The textile workers have also protested against the unfair competition especially from the pirated textiles.
Meanwhile, local textile producers may have to contend with competition from imported ones until they are able to fully meet the demand for textiles.
Local textiles producers are able to meet only a quarter of the demand.
Of the 120 million yards of fabric needed annually, local producers are able to supply only 30 million yards.
It is due to this that, government is considering getting Chinese investors who produce textiles in China to invest in the textile industry by establishing their factories in Ghana.
When these investors are able to invest by establishing textile companies in Ghana, it will create employment, generate the needed revenue and help to stop Ghanaians who travel all the way to China to import pirated textiles, Mr Kyerematen said.
Apparently, despite all these plans outlined by government, angry textile workers have planned to picket at the Presidency as they are provoked by government’s reaction to their recent demonstration. Last month hundreds of the distressed workers hit the streets of Accra to demand that government extends the mandate of the anti-pirated textile taskforce to enable it move from the borders to the markets.
This will pave way for the seizure and destruction of pirated wax-prints in compliance with regulations of the World Trade Organization (WTO). Deputy Trade Minister Carlos Ahenkorah has reportedly indicated that, government cannot grant the request of the textile workers to destroy pirated wax prints due to the huge amounts invested by the textile traders.
But the textile workers who have re-petitioned the Ministry have punched holes into the claims. Spokesperson for the Coalition of Textile Workers John Abeka told journalists in Accra that government is flouting international trade regulations.
“We heard the Minister saying these are people who are using their monies and so he considers the fact that their monies are going to be burnt once we seize the pirated wax prints and burn them. Why would you condone something that is wrong? If it’s wrong it’s wrong.
“These are smugglers. And so we don’t have to accept the fact that because they are crying we have to listen to them. Then let us go and listen to the people importing Indian hemp, Tramadol and cocaine because they are also doing business. If the Minister is saying the women are complaining their products and money get missing during the raids by the taskforce is he saying the Police, military men or custom officers are thieves? Such statements should not come from him,” he said.
Deputy Trade Minister Carlos Ahenkorah has also indicated that government will release funds to the ailing textile companies as a stimulus
However, speaking on the stimulus package promised by government to help revive the textile industry, Mr Abeka said the stimulus package will not make any impact on the operations of the textile companies if government does not rid the market of pirated wax prints.
“We don’t need stimulus packages. That is not the priority for us at the moment. Because if the smuggling of pirated textiles does not stop the stimulus package cannot help the ailing textile companies. They must listen to us. Because if they don’t we will hit the streets again and this time around it will be at the Jubilee House”, he said.
The textile workers have given government one month to allow the anti-pirated textile taskforce to seize and destroy pirated wax prints.