Mr Muniru pointed out that up to 40% of imported textiles were not genuine and said the seizure of fake textile imports is not enough of a deterrent to rid the market of fake goods, as the pirates almost always contrive to bring into the country more fake materials even when their goods have been impounded before.
“There should be stiffer punishments for importers and manufactures who have been contributing to collapse of the local industry for their selfish gains.
“Because those apprehended are not punished enough – only get their goods are seized – they continue to seek funds from other places to import more. If they are really punished it would deter the recalcitrant importers from bringing pirated materials into the country,” he said.
The Northern Regional Minister was speaking at a Tamale workshop for textile dealers. He explained that the over-reliance of consumers on imported textiles frustrated the government’s efforts to promote made-in-Ghana goods as a way of sustaining the production capacity and profitability of domestic textile manufacturers.
“This is a worry to government, as a number of companies in the textile and garment sub- sector are closing down and laying-off their staff,” he said.
Local textile manufacturers consider fake textiles the biggest challenge to their business, as the price of the imported products makes it uncompetitive for local firms.
There are now 3,000 jobs in the textile industry — down from about 30,000 a few years ago. Over the years, attempts to minimise pirated textiles on the market have not been entirely successful.
Last year, the Joint Anti-Piracy Taskforce set up by government to inspect pirated textiles suspended its work on the orders of President John Dramani Mahama following complaints of harassment from market traders.
Some textile workers groups have called for an outright ban on the importation of textiles into the country as a protectionist measure.
However, Alhaji Muniru explained that ECOWAS protocol on trade forbids member-countries from imposing an absolute ban on the import of competitive goods and services.
He said revamping of the cotton industry in the Garu-Tempane District in the Upper West Region will be a boost to the local textile industry and create jobs for many others.
“The potential of the cotton industry contributing to the manufacturing sector is high, which will promote the textile industry and create jobs in the country,” he said.
The Chairman of the Tax Force on Seizure and Disposal of Pirated Ghanaian Textile Designs, Appiah Donyina, said members of the Task Force — with assistance from the security agencies, will intensify operations and track traders who stock and sell pirated goods.
An official of the Ghana Standards Authority, Eugene Adarkwa Addai, expressed regret at traders’ desire to continuously import counterfeit textiles into the country and emboss them with imitated Ghanaian logos to make them look like made in Ghana textiles.
He described such activities as not only criminal but dangerous to the health of consumers, as most the chemicals used to treat such fake textiles can cause harm to users.
He appealed to textile manufactures to ensure that their products are brought before the Vetting Committee on the Importation of African Textile Print for certification before allowing them onto the market.