The Importers and Exporters Association of Ghana is unhappy with government’s decision to ban importation of all tilapia species and ornamental fishes from 1 July to 31 December this year without consulting them first.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture Development said the six months ban is an immediate measure to help prevent and control tilapia lake virus, a newly emerging virus that is associated with significant mortalities in farmed tilapia with cases reported across Africa, Asia and South America.
Since the first discovery of the virus in Israel in 2014, cases have been reported in Columbia, Ecuador, Egypt and Thailand and the number of reported cases is expected to rise hence the ban.
However, the Importers and Exporters Association said government did not engage them before coming out with the directive and say they will incur cost unless a compensation package is put in place for businessmen who have already made orders prior to the ban.
Speaking to Class News, the Executive Director of the Association, Samson Asaki Awingobit said: “It is a big blow, it’s a challenging time for someone who has already placed an order that is on the high seas coming.
“So if you pay a supplier and the goods get to Ghana, government will say destroy it and there’s no Plan B. Government will receive your product and say: ‘We’ll not allow you to clear it unto the market, we are going to destroy it, but we’re going to compensate.’ How fast will the compensation be done? The businessman and the businesswoman is running on loans, we know the money importers are paying to their bankers, so, if you just issue a fiat like this, then you cause fear and panic in the minds of the business people especially if there is no level of engagement.
“Importers and Exporters Association is a key stakeholder to the Fisheries Ministries and so I’m challenging them, was there any prior discussion? Is there any Plan B? We’ll protect the country but we’ll protect the importers and exporters of this country too. We only saw such a directive in the media, we have not been copied and that is not the best.”