By Cecil Mensah
As part of the measures to give a human face to the operations of the Anti-Pirated Textiles Taskforce, the Ministry of Trade and Industry, has pledged to reconstitute the taskforce to enable it live up to its mandate on the seizure of pirated textiles.
This pledge came to the fore, when about six hundred members of the Textile, Garment and Leather Employee’s Union (TGLEU), under the Ghana Federation of Labour (GFL), marched to the Ministry of Trade and Industry, demanding an explanation for the suspension of the activities of the Anti-Pirated Taskforce in Accra.
The decision by the union to stage the demonstration, was triggered by the unilateral decision of the Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuije, to announce that the activities of the taskforce has been suspended over complaints that members of the taskforce, were hounding
textile traders in the Odododiodiodio Constituency.
The union has called on the Minister, as a matter of urgency, to reverse the decision in the interest of the “Better Ghana Agenda,” which is aimed at creating decent jobs and to curtail massive unemployment in the country.
According to a petition signed by Mr John Amoah and Mr Wisdom Appiah, and presented to the Minister, “a great number of our colleagues and their dependants in the textile industry through compulsory redundancies to due to Bad Economic Policies of Government have lost their jobs”.
The petition said that the continued implementation of the suspension of the anti- pirate taskforce was anti industrialization and threatens job security of members of the union.
The petition recollected the crucial contribution of the textile manufacturing industries towards the enhancement of economic development of the country as against the subversive activities of some textile traders who have caused job losses and undermined economic growth of the country.
The petition said, the taskforce came as a great relief to members of the union and were hopeful it would restore sanity in the textile trading in the country.
Speaking after the presentation of the petition to the Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Franci Omari, leader of the demonstrating union said, the taskforce has the mandate to search the wardrobes of the traders and to seize pirated textiles.
“So members of the taskforce have not flouted any law by searching the wares houses of the traders, who usually smuggles their textiles through the Aflao border without paying the appropriate taxes.
He said, even though the Ministry has issued a fiat for all textiles to be imported through the Tema, Takoradi ports and Accra International Airport (KIA), some unscrupulous textile traders still manage to pirate designs of local textiles industries.
He said, these traders make windfalls at the expense of the textile industries, who invest in the development of the designs.
He posited that mangers of the local textile industry are not happy about the Ministry’s decision to suspend the activities of the taskforce because, the illicit activities of the textiles traders have rendered the local industry at a loss this Christmas because a chunk of its designs have pirated and selling for peanuts on the market.
Receiving the petition, Alhaji Haruna Iddrisu, appealed to the leaders of the union to test the aspects of the law that bothers on Intellectual Property in the law courts, since pirating ones intellectual property is a criminal offence.
He pledged his Ministry’s preparedness to reconstitute the taskforce to enable it meet its mandate of flushing out pirated textiles.
He revealed that come next week or the first week of January 2014, the Ministry would hold a consultative stakeholders meeting to reconstitute the taskforce.
He posited that act of piracy affect government’s revenue drive for other developmental projects and government would not relent in making that business a disincentive in the country.
“The illicit activities of pirated textiles have led to huge revenue loss and job cuts in the country,” he said