The Textile Sellers Association at the Kumasi Central Market has petitioned the Minister of Trade and Industry over the activities of a task force set up to check the influx of pirated textiles on the local market.
The association accused the task force of victimising its members, instead of helping them to stem the influx of pirated textiles.
The government set up the task force to monitor, seize and dispose of pirated Ghanaian textile designs to stop the activities of illicit textile traders in the country.
However, in a petition signed by the Secretary of the association, Mrs Mary Nkrumah, and presented to Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah when he paid a working visit to the Ashanti Region, the association claimed that the activities of the task force posed a threat to their business.
It accused the task force of diverting some of the confiscated textiles before sending the rest to wherever they were supposed to be kept.
It claimed that there had been instances when some of the textiles seized from traders were found to be missing when the traders followed up to the ministry, “making us believe that some had been unlawfully removed”.
We are not experts
It contended that members of the association were neither producers nor printers of textiles and only obtained their supplies from what was available on the market.
The petition said members also lacked the skills and technical know-how to differentiate between original and pirated textiles and, therefore, they did not understand why they should be penalised for the infiltration of pirated textiles on the market as they also did not engage in the importation of the product.
It called for attention to be rather concentrated on those who imported textiles into the country, instead of targeting the retailer.
Members of the association complained that while they were ready to sell locally manufactured textiles and help the companies to thrive, the local textiles were always in short supply.
The petition also complained about the role of agents in the supply chain of local textiles, adding that the situation made them very expensive.
“We love to deal in local textiles but our problem is that these textiles are extremely difficult to get from the distributors and they are also sold at expensive prices, which makes it difficult selling to the consumer,” it said.
Among other things, the petition asked for a catalogue containing the designs of local textile companies to help members of the association in their dealings and suggested that the task force should rather concentrate its activities at the borders.
In his response, Mr Spio-Garbrah promised the traders that their concerns would be taken up with the appropriate stakeholders when he gets back to Accra.
He explained that the objective of the task force was not to get textile retailers out of business but protect local companies from collapsing.
That, he said, also involved ensuring that the intellectual property rights of the designers were not infringed upon.