The “legislative diplomacy” initiative of House Speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila has recorded its first breakthrough with the promise by Ghanian president, Nana Akufo-Addo to ensure that the law that makes it mandatory for foreigners (Nigerians inclusive) to have $1m as capital base before being allowed to operate a business in the country is amended.
President Akufo-Addo gave this assurance when the speaker of Ghanaian parliament, Mike Oquaye led his Nigerian counterpart on a courtesy visit to his office at the Jubilee House in Accra on Thursday.
This resolution was contained in a statement issued on Friday by the Chairman of the House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Benjamin Kalu.
The statement was titled, ‘Ghana to Consider Resolutions From Legislative Diplomacy in Resolving Trade Dispute – Ghana’s President Akufo-Addo tells Gbajabiamila…as Nigeria’s Speaker Makes Case for the Amendment of Ghana’s GIPC Act.’
Gbajabiamila had led a delegation of members of the House on a two-day “legislative diplomatic mission” to Ghana, to explore legislative diplomacy towards resolving the issues affecting both countries.
The dialogue between the parliaments of the two countries had sought modalities to resolve challenges and provide an enabling business environment for foreign traders, especially Nigerians doing business in Ghana.
Several foreign businesses in Ghana, many of which are owned by Nigerians, have been facing challenges in the demand for $1m capital base, as enshrined in the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act (2013).
Responding to a request by Gbajabiamila for a review of the GIPC Act to make certain concessions, Akufo-Addo said the request was in order as it “makes a lot of sense.”
The Ghanaian President, who expressed satisfaction with Gbajabiamila’s visit, endorsed his proposal for the establishment of a ‘Nigeria-Ghana Business Council’ established by law in both countries.
Akufo-Addo further suggested the setting up of a joint ministerial committee between the two countries that would “shepherd” issues between Ghana and Nigeria.
He also told Gbajabiamila that he would raise the issue with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), when they meet at the ECOWAS Summit on Monday.
Kalu quoted the Ghanaian President as saying, “I think the way forward, which is really what matters in situations like this, that is being suggested, one that I find very acceptable, the idea of legislation, a Nigeria-Ghana Business Council that will superintendent trade matters and investment matters between our two countries, maybe long overdue.
“The time has come for us to take these worthwhile steps. I suggested to Mr President (Buhari) that it will be a good idea to set up a joint ministerial committee of ministers from both sides who will be responsible for shepherding Ghana and Nigeria issues, reporting to both presidents at any one time, and that is how they should be resolved.
“I am hoping when I see him on Monday for the ECOWAS Summit, we can advance these discussions and come to a final conclusion.
“The way you yourselves have come about this matter is very satisfactory and it requires our support. The review that you are asking for, why not? if it works in our mutual perspectives, we can take it for granted that your request will be taken seriously. We will have a look at it. So, the request for the review makes a lot of sense.”
Gbajabiamila had earlier said, “We have appealed to the (Ghanaian) Parliament that if it is possible at all to look again at the issues, as far as the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Act is concerned, they should please do so. If it is not possible, then let us look at ways the pain can be reduced, like those expectations required in the law.
“We have proffered a few suggestions one of which is the establishment of Ghana-Nigeria Business Council backed by legislation on both sides.”
The two also parliaments jointly issued a communique at the end of the bilateral meeting.