Ghana lays down conditions for foreign investment

Accra, July 3 (IANS) Lawmakers in Ghana are considering a bill that sets the minimum capital requirement for non-Ghanaian investors at $250,000.

The bill lays down that in the case of foreign investors partnering with Ghanaians, the total investment should be pegged at $50,000 in cash or capital goods relevant to the investment or a combination of both by way of equity participation.

“A trading enterprise that is principally engaged in the purchase and sale of goods shall not be wholly owned by a person who is not a citizen but shall operate by way of a joint venture with a partner who is a citizen,” says the new Ghana Investment Promotion Centre Bill.

A partner in the enterprise, who is a citizen, “shall have not less than 30 percent equity participation in the joint venture”, the bill says, adding that such a partner shall “not transfer the equity participation to a person who is not a citizen”.

As per the bill, trading includes “the purchasing and selling of imported goods and services”. Any enterprise to be set up after the bill becomes law “shall employ at least 10 skilled Ghanaians”.

It says the minimum capital requirement does not apply to portfolio investments or “an enterprise set up solely for export trading and manufacturing”. And export trading includes export of goods or produce that originate from Ghana.

The bill also seeks to bar non-citizens from the sale of goods or provision of services in a market, petty trading or hawking or selling of goods in a stall at any place. In addition, non-Ghanaians will not be allowed to operate taxi or car hire services that do not have a fleet of more than 25 vehicles.

“The operation of a beauty salon or a barber shop and the printing of recharge scratch cards for the use of subscribers of mobile telecommunication services” have been reserved for Ghanaians under the bill.

It however states that discrimination is prohibited under the new law. “A foreign investor, employer or worker shall enjoy the same rights and be subject to the same duties and obligations applicable to citizens.”

The Ghana Investment Promotion Centre (GIPC), the bill states, “as an official agency, or any other legal representative of the centre shall not discriminate against an investor from a particular country or give special treatment to prospective foreign investor based on that investor’s country or origin or nationality”.

It says that maintenance of business books and records should be in accordance with the recognised accounting standards. “Insurance requirements that apply to similar enterprises and taxes required shall be paid by enterprises engaged in similar activities.”

The bill also guarantees against expropriation stating that, “subject to the constitution (of Ghana) and any other relevant laws, an enterprise shall not be nationalised or expropriated by government and a person who owns, whether wholly or in part, the capital of an enterprise shall not be compelled by law to cede that person’s capital to another person.”

If it becomes necessary to acquire an enterprise, the bill says, it will only be done “unless the acquisition is in the national interest or for a public purpose and the acquisition is done under a law which makes provision for payment of fair and adequate compensation and a right of access to the high court for the determination of the investors’ interest or right and the amount of compensation to which the investor is entitled”.

The bill also guarantees transfer of capital, profits and dividend and personal remittances in accordance with the Foreign Exchange Act.

“An enterprise shall, through an authorised dealer bank, be guaranteed unconditional transferability in freely convertible currency of dividends or net profits attributable to the investment made in the enterprise.”

“An expatriate person employed or engaged in an enterprise may, subject to the fulfilment of all tax obligations, make remittance which do not exceed the basic net salary of that person,” it adds.

(Francis Kokutse can be contacted at [email protected])

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