Prof John Gatsi, Dean of the School of Business at the University of Cape Coast, has revealed that the reopening of borders by government will allow for economic activities to take place in the country.
He indicated that this is needed to ensure government rakes in the needed revenue for the economy as it has suffered the economic impact associated with the closure of its land borders. This, Prof Gatsi explained, was due to the fact that those who crossed the borders were forced to pay unauthorised fees to “border agents and other associates” and all those monies were “lost to the state”.
“So, government also lost some revenue. It is not merely because we think that we have overcome COVID-19 that is why we are opening the borders. Government believes that the reopening of the borders will allow for economic activities to ensure revenue mobilization across the borders. That is one key thing that drove government to make this decision at this crucial time. So, we all suffered the economic pain, but unfortunately we cannot restore some of the economic delusion that our people were subjected. As I indicated, no help was given to them at the border crossing…”
Prof John Gatsi
Delay in reopening of country’s borders
Prof Gatsi expressed that Government has delayed in the reopening of its land borders. He explained that some business folks and farmers who ply their trade across the border bore the brunt of its closure. Citing an example, he revealed that people from Paga and the northern part of the country which shares border with Burkina Faso and also part of the Volta Region and Oti that share border with Togo, who had farms in these neignbouring countries, were affected.
All these people, Prof Gatsi noted, were not going to farm and for those who were able to make the journey, were confronted with a lot of difficulties which affected their commitment to food production and generation of their own income.
“I think we took too long a time to do this because when COVID started, we didn’t know how to handle it but we were told that there’s something called protocol that we need to observe. If we are able to use our nose masks, if we are able to distance ourselves from people, if we ensure that we don’t shake people, we are good to go. Therefore, all that is needed is to invest in some PPEs and some facilities to ensure that the protocols are adhered to at the border crossing. I believe we refused to do that, thinking people will be [marching] into our country with the disease. I believe that took us a very long time to take the decision we are taking today. So, I think that really affected economic activities across the borders. So, I think the decision has actually delayed… We will take it like that and believe that economic activities will resume”.
Prof John Gatsi
On his part, Executive Secretary of the Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana, Samson Asaki Awingobit, bemoaned the plight of persons who were affected as a result of the border closure. He intimated that Ghanaians who were getting their livelihoods across the borders were hit hard as most of them lost their economic activities due to the border closure. That notwithstanding, he expressed optimism in the reopening of borders and easing of restrictions in the country.
“As we speak, I think now that they’ve opened it completely, lawfully, one can cross to do business with Togo and cross to do business in Ghana without any fear or any restriction. For me, we strongly believe that it’s going to help Ghana and of course, the kind of revenue that was lost during that period, Ghana will be able to recoup… On that note, I’ll say it’s good. It’s better late than never”.
Samson Asaki Awingobit