The President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has made a passionate appeal to the leadership and members of the Vehicle and Assets Dealers Union of Ghana (VADUG) to partner with the government as it takes concrete steps to improve the automotive industry in the country.
The president made this appeal as he addressed a delegation from the union at Jubilee House in Accra when members paid a courtesy call on him at his invitation.
President Akufo-Addo in his address said that he had received word of bickering among members of thunion and its affiliates over certain provisions of the government’s new Ghana Automotive Manufacturing Development Policy (GAMDP). The president said it was for this reason that he decided to meet with the members to find common ground on the matter.
“I heard the wrangling that is taking place on your side and I thought it would be a good idea for us to meet, for me to get a first-hand idea of what the issues were,” he said.
Even before the president’s suggestion to the union, the general secretary of VADUG, Joshua Opoku-Agyemang, in a statement read on behalf of his fellow union members, declared that there is a need to introduce amendments to the GAMDP if the businesses of members of the union are to be sustained.
The policy must also be reformed if jobs in the automotive industry value chain across the country are to be protected, Opoku-Agyemang said. These include jobs such as clearing agents, tow vehicle owners and drivers, key programmers, straighteners, sprayers, spare parts dealers, mechanics, electricians, auto air-condition technicians, sales agents, security men and washers.
As industry stakeholders, the union members requested that, first, Section 151 of Act 891 be amended to redefine salvaged vehicles. The union noted that there are two categories under the title salvaged vehicles:
a. Non-repairable/junk titled vehicles: these are cars severely damaged and non-operable, with no resale value other than the parts, which are usually sold to licensed dismantlers and scrappers, and,
b. Repairable, repossessed, rebuildable, recoverable and legally exportable vehicles.
“These vehicles are mainly sold to licensed dealers within the jurisdiction, exporters, rebuilders and other licensed automobile businesses across the globe, with buyers from … Europe, Africa and the Middle East. But unfortunately, vehicles with the mentioned conditions above are all referred to as wrecked or destroyed and banned under the blanket term ‘salvage’ as per the current passed Customs Bill 2020 (Act 891),” Opoku-Agyemang said.
In addition, the union is seeking to amend Section 58 of the act, the general secretary said, to allow the importation of repairable, rebuildable, recoverable and legally exportable salvage vehicles.
“This is because those are the products VADUG and its affiliates deal in nationwide,” he explained.
Age of imported vehicles
The union further proposed that the government should consider discouraging the importation of vehicles older than 15 by introducing increased import duties, instead of banning motor vehicles over ten years of age outright.
“This is because some of these vehicles come in well maintained with good mileages. VADUG believes that with strict and well-resourced regulatory bodies in place, coupled with considerable good roads, these vehicles would be in the position to serve our targeted consumer market,” the VADUG general secretary said.
Call for agreement
In his remarks after the union’s submissions, President Akufo-Addo said he does not think the matters that have been put forth by VADUG in its position paper are so different from what the government is trying to do, such that a middle ground cannot be found.
He proposed that as early as Monday 27 July 2020, officials from the presidency, together with representatives of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, will meet with the union to find the way forward to resolve VADUG members’ grievances.
“On the basis of what emerges from the dialogue, we can then approach the process of legislation,” the president said.
Lesson from COVID-19
President Akufo-Addo noted in his speech that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has taught the world a lesson, which is that there is a great need to take steps to become independent and self-sufficient.
“This pandemic has come. It has opened the eyes of the world to the fact that every country that wants to work well has to create a paradigm for itself of self-dependency and self-sufficiency. It is key,” the president said.
Appeal to VADUG
President Akufo-Addo argued that like all other actors in the Ghanaian economy, VADUG is going to have to adjust its thinking and business model, transforming itself to become part of the home-based, localised automotive industry which is developing in the country.
“That was always a major objective – to create a new paradigm where people like you would fit in,” the president said.
Wilberforce Asare / Asaase Radio