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Free Zones Authority cautions FZEs

By: Kester Aburam Korankye
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Participants at the meeting
Participants at the meeting

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Free Zones Authority (GFZA), Mr Michael Okyere Baafi, has sounded a stern warning to free zones enterprises (FZE) that flout the law of selling only 30 per cent of its manufactured products locally and exporting the remaining 70 per cent.

“We have had complaints of free zone enterprises selling more than the stipulated 30 per cent on the local market”

He said fines would be imposed on non-complying companies and others that failed to submit their quarterly reports and audited financial statements.

 “Most free zone enterprises have also not submitted their quarterly reports and audited financial statements and more grievously, some of the quarterly reports are presented with false information.

“This lack of submission of quarterly returns and misrepresentation of information is affecting the GFZA’s reporting to government. Most of the companies also owe ground rent and some have not renewed their licences. This has greatly affected the finances of the GFZA,” he said.

Mr Baafi was addressing a meeting of CEOs of licensed FZEs from the Eastern, Greater Accra and Volta regions in Accra on March 1.

The meeting created a platform for the GFZA to give feedback on issues concerning security and immigration raised at a previous meeting with the Free Zones Enterprises (FZE) in Koforidua in the Eastern Region.

The meeting also created an opportunity for FZE to interact with frontline agencies whose activities impacted on free zones operations such as the Ghana Ports and Harbour Authority(GPHA), the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) the EXIM Bank Ghana Ltd, the Customs division of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) and the Ghana Immigration Service.

New Strategy
Mr Baafi indicated that the strategy of the authority was to change the face of the GFZA by creating autonomous offices, enhancing the quality of service delivery and introducing speed to improve on the quality of service delivery with regard to GFZA licence application processes, exemption application processes, visa application and renewal processes, as well as vehicle registration processes.

He also said the GFZA would set up a new unit at the secretariat for the oil and gas sector due to the rapid development of the sector.

Addressing the issue of growing insecurity at the Free Zones Enclave in Tema, which some investors at the meeting expressed disappointment about, he assured that security at the Tema enclave would be beefed up.

“GFZA is having discussions with the Ghana Armed Forces to provide a military detachment at the Tema EPZ. We are also working on the Police and Fire Service posts within the enclave,” he said.

Regional industrial zones 
A Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Carlos Kingsley Ahenkorah, expressed the government’s appreciation to investors for consistently keeping faith with the country and helping to make the free zones programme a success.

“We cannot thank you enough for your contribution to our economy, it is possible that those who started and kept faith with us send that message across to other investors that it is possible to do business in Ghana,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Ahenkorah indicated that the government would establish an industrial zone in all the ten regions of the country to beef up the industrialisation focus of the government.

The development of these regional industrial zones  will create regional hubs for medium to large-scale enterprises where infrastructure and services will be concentrated in order to achieve economies of scale.