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Monthly Archives: February 2017


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Trade Fair In Ruins


The Ghana Trade Fair Centre, which used to be a centre of attraction and convergence for trading activities among the business community, both local and international, is now a pale shadow of itself.

The centre, built over four decades ago as a magnificent edifice meant to host major local and international fairs, is now in ruins, a situation which makes it unattractive and unsafe to host any major fair or exhibition.With the exception of pavilions A and B, as well as the Mobile Pavilion and the one housing the offices of the Ghana Trade Fair Company (GTFC), operators of the centre, the other facilities at the centre have been overtaken by weeds, making them  good havens for reptiles.

During a visit  to the centre last weekend and early this week, the Daily Graphic observed that the famous Round Pavilion, which used to attract many visitors during trade fairs, was in bad shape.

The roof of the pavilion had been ripped off, while the Entertainment Centre behind the Round Pavilion was overgrown with weeds.

Apart from a few institutions, such as the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Federation of Ghanaian Exporters (FAGE) and other companies, which have permanent shops and stores there, there is nothing to write home about the centre.

The centre is vibrant during the weekends, as event organisers use some of the facilities to hold their programmes, such as church services, political rallies and other social events.

The GTFC has also decided to hire out the wings of Pavilion A to private individuals to use as stores, but an official told the Daily Graphic that “per our agreement, anytime we are organising a fair, such individuals either have to vacate for the fair to take place or pay the required amount in order to participate as exhibitors”.


Ghana’s first President, Dr Kwame Nkrumah, established the centre exactly 50 years ago as part of an industrialisation programme to expand the country’s international trade, especially in Africa.

From being a department under the Ministry of Trade and Industry to an authority, the company was converted into a limited liability and christened the Ghana Trade Fair Company Limited. It was incorporated under the Statutory Corporations (Conversion to Companies) Act 1993, Act 461 in April 1997.

The centre had the vision to become the preferred international trade fair centre in the sub-region to promote beneficial trade between Ghana and its g


lobal trading partners but it has not received much support from successive governments, while its facilities continue to deteriorate.

The mission of the centre is: “To organise world-class fairs and exhibitions. To be the prime institution for business trade facilitation in Ghana and to promote business exposure by creating match-making opportunities for Ghanaian businesses and their counterparts abroad”.

Lieutenant General J. A. Ankrah, who was the Head of State after the 1966 coup, which overthrew Dr Nkrumah officially opened the First International Trade Fair on February 1, 1967, with a total of 17 foreign countries, seven African as well as over 40 Ghanaian industries participating. The second and third fairs came off in 1971 and 1975 respectively.


Other fairs

After that there was a lull as the Trade Fair Centre was left to deteriorate. When the PNDC took over in 1981, it put in place strategies as part of the Economic Recovery Programme (ERP), which included the revival of local businesses.

Thus, in 1985, a group of local business people in the worrd and furniture sector, agreed to organise a fair and they sought the government’s assistance to rehabilitate the Trade Fair Centre.

This led to the hosting of the Ghana International Furniture and Woodworking Industry Exhibition (GIFEX), an annual exhibition to highlight activities of the furniture and woodworking industry in the country.

It openmed the flood gate for other fairs such as the Ghana Industry and Technology Exhibition, (INDUTECH) in 1987, the ECOWAS Fair, Grand Sales, the GREDA Housing Fair and Tourism Fair among other such shows.

The initiative by the private sector opened up the Trade Fair Centre for various kinds of businesses including trade shows, tradein all kinds of merchandise on an annual basis.

Every year, the trade fairs attracted business people and visitors to the centre to transact businesses and have fund.

Fond memories

Proffering reasons for the woes of the centre, the Chief Executive Officer of the GTFC, Dr Erasmus Koney, recalled with fond memories how the centre used to be.

“In times of old, the trade fair centre was a very vibrant place for everybody, including me. I have fond memories of what trade fairs used to be.

“In those days, the mission was to showcase Ghana as having arrived. The several industries that had sprung up in Ghana were to showcase their products here to other African countries and the whole world that Ghana was progressing,” he explained.

He, however, said with the springing up of a number of shopping malls within the country, especially in Accra, it was no more exciting for people to wait until the company organised its international fair or grand sales before they could come and buy things.

“With the establishment of various shopping malls, people do not have to wait for two weeks in a year to come here. For 365 days in the year you can visit any of the malls and you can get whatever you want,” Dr Koney explained.

He also blamed local industries for failing to patronise the centre’s fairs.

Dr Koney said currently when the company organised fairs and exhibitions, majority of the participants were always those in the tie & dye, beads and beads products as well as carving business.



Recalling what led to the conversion into a limited liability, he said in the 1992 Constitution, it was suggested that the centre, which was a department under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, be changed into an authority and later into a company.

He said a committee was set up to look into the viability of that suggestion and it came up with recommendations, among which was for the government to invest ¢919 million and $84 million to recapitalise the centre.

“But not a single cedi was sent here to recapitalise the centre. With trade fair now a company, it has been taken off government subvention and the workers are now required to work and pay themselves.

“After some time, the dilapidated nature of the buildings was such that it did not become attractive to event organisers and so they did not want to come here. They rather went to the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC),” he explained.

Dr Koney recalled that in February 2016, the government requested investors to bid to transform the centre, with Pricewaterhouse Coopers serving as advisers.

He said 10 companies were shortlisted and after an evaluation, five were chosen, out of which one was selected.

Dr Koney said currently the company was awaiting what the current government would say concerning what the previous government had initiated.

Current government

Explaining why the grounds of the centre were weedy, he said the board ordered that the cleaners and others janitors offering services be sacked, leaving only one because the centre could not pay for their services.

Dr Koney said the company was now working feverishly to host the Ghana@60 International Trade Fair slated from March 2 to 7, 2017 to coincide with the Ghana@60 celebrations.

He said the company was renovating pavilions A and B, as well as the Mobile Pavilion, and their wings to host the upcoming fair.

Dr Koney was convinced that with an injection of funds, the centre could bounce back to live, adding that after the upcoming fair, the centre would begin to transform.


 The fountain at the Trade Fair Centre is now out of use


NDC government did ‘everything possible’ to protect Woyome – Kofi Bentil


The Vice President of policy think tank, IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil, says the National Democratic Congress (NDC) attempted to allow businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome go scot-free without paying the GHS51 million he owes the state.

According to him, the previous government did everything possible to let off the hook the one time NDC financier, and thus protected him while in government.

“As someone who followed this very closely, the NDC did everything that was possible to let Mr. Woyome off the hook. They protected him in every way possible.”

He expressed regret the government had allowed Mr. Woyome to determine his own payment plan, adding that the current government must be more serious in retrieving the money.

Speaking on Eyewitness News on Thursday [February 22, 2017], Kofi Bentil said, “I expect the current government to be more serious in trying to retrieve the money from Mr. Woyome. I expect the current government not to allow Mr. Woyome walk around as free as he is. I’m not saying anyone should assault him; but he should be put under considerable pressure so that he finds it necessary to pay our money than to keep telling us when he will pay and how much he will pay and keep running around as if he has an option not to pay us.”

“He has a certain attitude and I think that comes from his assurance that the previous government was going to support him. I think the attitude of this government should be such that Mr. Woyome feels that he owes something to Ghanaians and he is prepared to pay otherwise he can expect that he will not have a comfortable stay in this country.”

He added that his call for the new government to pursue Mr. Woyome for the money is not to encourage that it breaks the law in retrieving the money, but that it must demonstrate determination and seriousness in pursuing the necessary legal procedures to retrieve it.

I hope gov’t will pursue Woyome cash – Mahama

The matter has come up again for discussion following President John Mahama’s claim that his government had done enough in retrieving the money; and that he expects the new NPP government to continue from where they left off.

President Mahama said this on Thursday when he granted an interview to Power FM, a South African-based radio station. Meanwhile, a private legal practitioner, and a member of the NDC has challenged criticisms that the party was not committed to retrieving the money.

According to him, the NDC followed the due process in attempts to retrieve the money, and that achieved some positive results as Mr. Woyome had paid some GHs4.5 million from the total sum.

‘How did Woyome owe the state?’

Alfred Agbesi Woyome was paid GH¢ 51 million in a judgment debt after claiming he helped Ghana raise funds to construct stadia to host the 2008 African Cup of Nations; but the government cancelled the contract, forcing him to secure a judgement in his favour.

But the Supreme Court in 2014, ordered Mr. Woyome to pay back the money, after Mr. Martin Amidu, a private individual and a former Attorney General, challenged the legality of the payment.

However, several years on, the state is yet to retrieve the money.

It was announced in 2016 that Mr Woyome had agreed to pay the money in tranches, forcing the then Attorney General, Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong to discontinue an application that sought to orally examine him in court.



Setting up a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These easy steps that can help you plan, prepare and manage your business.

 1: Write a Business Plan

Use these tools and resources to create a business plan. This written guide will help you map out how you will start and run your business successfully.

 2: Get Business Assistance and Training

Take advantage of free training and counseling services, from preparing a business plan and securing financing, to expanding or relocating a business.

 3: Choose a Business Location

Get advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws.

 4: Finance Your Business

Find government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

 5: Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

 6: Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Register your business name with your state government.

Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

 7: Register for State and Local Taxes

Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

 8: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

 9: Understand Employer Responsibilities

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire employees.

 10: Find Local Assistance

Contact your local SBA office to learn more about how SBA can help.

Startup Resources

There are a number of available programs to assist startups, micro businesses, and underserved or disadvantaged groups. The following resources provide information to help specialized audiences start their own businesses.

  • Environmentally-Friendly “Green” Business
  • Home-Based Business
  • Online Business
  • Self Employment
  • Minority Owned Business
  • Veteran Owned Business
  • Woman Owned Business

You can save money when starting or expanding your business by using government surplus. From commercial real estate and cars, to furniture, computers and office equipment, find what you need for your business in one place.


Find Local Assistance

SBA’s District Offices are responsible for the delivery of SBA’s many programs and services throughout the country. Services available include:

  • Free counseling, advice and information on starting a business through SCORE.
  • Financial assistance for new or existing businesses through guaranteed loans made by area bank and non-bank lenders.
  • Free consulting services through the network of Small Business Development Centers. SBDCs also conduct training events throughout the district – some require a nominal registration fee.
  • Assistance to businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals through the Minority Enterprise Development Program.
  • Women’s Business Ownership Representatives are available to advise women business owners.
  • Special loan programs are available for businesses involved in international trade.
  • Guaranteed loans are available for credit-worthy veterans.

Information on SBA’s International Visitors Program to visit District Offices.

Understand Employer Responsibilities

Hire Your First Employee

If your business is booming, but you are struggling to keep up, perhaps it’s time to hire some help.

The eight steps below can help you start the hiring process and ensure you are compliant with key federal and state regulations.

Step 1. Obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Before hiring your first employee, you need to get an employment identification number (EIN) from the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The EIN is often referred to as an Employer Tax ID or as Form SS-4. The EIN is necessary for reporting taxes and other documents to the IRS. In addition, the EIN is necessary when reporting information about your employees to state agencies. Apply for EIN online or contact the IRS at 1-800-829-4933.

Step 2. Set up Records for Withholding Taxes

According to the IRS, you must keep records of employment taxes for at least four years. Keeping good records can also help you monitor the progress of your business, prepare financial statements, identify sources of receipts, keep track of deductible expenses, prepare your tax returns, and support items reported on tax returns.

Below are three types of withholding taxes you need for your business:

  • Federal Income Tax Withholding
    Every employee must provide an employer with a signed withholding exemption certificate (Form W-4) on or before the date of employment. The employer must then submit Form W-4 to the IRS. For specific information, read the IRS’ Employer’s Tax Guide [PDF].
  • Federal Wage and Tax Statement
    Every year, employers must report to the federal government wages paid and taxes withheld for each employee. This report is filed using Form W-2, wage and tax statement. Employers must complete a W-2 form for each employee who they pay a salary, wage or other compensation.

Employers must send Copy A of  W-2 forms to the Social Security Administration by the last day of February to report wages and taxes of your employees for the previous calendar year. In addition, employers should send copies of W-2 forms to their employees by Jan. 31 of the year following the reporting period. Visit SSA.gov/employer for more information.

  • State Taxes
    Depending on the state where your employees are located, you may be required to withhold state income taxes. Visit the state and local tax page for more information.

Step 3. Employee Eligibility Verification

Federal law requires employers to verify an employee’s eligibility to work in the United States. Within three days of hire, employers must complete Form I-9, employment eligibility verification, which requires employers to examine documents to confirm the employee’s citizenship or eligibility to work in the U.S. Employers can only request documentation specified on the I-9 form.

Employers do not need to submit the I-9 form with the federal government but are required to keep them on file for three years after the date of hire or one year after the date of the employee’s termination, whichever is later.

Employers can use information taken from the Form I-9 to electronically verify the employment eligibility of newly hired employees by registering with E-Verify.

Step 4. Register with Your State’s New Hire Reporting Program

All employers are required to report newly hired and re-hired employees to a state directory within 20 days of their hire or rehire date. Visit the New Hires Reporting Requirements page to learn more and find links to your state’s New Hire Reporting System.

Step 5. Obtain Workers’ Compensation Insurance

All businesses with employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance coverage through a commercial carrier, on a self-insured basis or through their state’s Workers’ Compensation Insurance program.

Step 6. Post Required Notices

Employers are required to display certain posters in the workplace that inform employees of their rights and employer responsibilities under labor laws. Visit the Workplace Posters page for specific federal and state posters you’ll need for your business.

Step 7. File Your Taxes

Generally, employers who pay wages subject to income tax withholding, Social Security and Medicare taxes must file IRS Form 941, Employer’s Quarterly Federal Tax Return. For more information, visit IRS.gov.

New and existing employers should consult the IRS Employer’s Tax Guide to understand all their federal tax filing requirements.

Visit the state and local tax page for specific tax filing requirements for employers.

Step 8. Get Organized and Keep Yourself Informed

Being a good employer doesn’t stop with fulfilling your various tax and reporting obligations. Maintaining a healthy and fair workplace, providing benefits and keeping employees informed about your company’s policies are key to your business’ success. Here are some additional steps you should take after you’ve hired your first employee:

Set up Recordkeeping

In addition to requirements for keeping payroll records of your employees for tax purposes, certain federal employment laws also require you to keep records about your employees. The following sites provide more information about federal reporting requirements:

  • Tax Recordkeeping Guidance
  • Labor Recordkeeping Requirements
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act Compliance
  • Employment Law Guide (employee benefits chapter)
  • Apply Standards that Protect Employee Rights

Complying with standards for employee rights in regards to equal opportunity and fair labor standards is a requirement. Following statutes and regulations for minimum wage, overtime, and child labor will help you avoid error and a lawsuit. See the Department of Labor’s Employment Law Guide for up-to-date information on these statutes and regulations.

Also, visit the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Fair Labor Standards Act.

Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Business Licenses & Permits

To run your business legally, there are certain federal and state licenses and permits you will need to obtain. These resources will help you understand the requirements for your small business

  • Federal Licenses & Permits

    Certain businesses, like ones that sell alcohol or firearms, require a federal license or permit. Find out which ones impact your business and how you can comply.

  • State Licenses & Permits

    Some states have requirements for specific businesses. Find out what business licenses and permits you need in your state.

Register for State and Local Taxes

Determine Your State Tax Obligations

In addition to federal business taxes, your business must pay certain state and local taxes. Tax laws vary by state and the links below provide access to key resources that will help you learn about your state tax obligations.

The most common types of tax requirements for small business are income taxes and employment taxes.

Income Taxes

Your state income tax obligation is determined by the legal structure of your business. For example, LLCs are taxed separately from the owners, while sole proprietors report their personal and business income taxes using the same form. Consult the General Tax Information link under your state for specific requirements.

Employment Taxes

In addition to federal employment taxes, if you have employees you are also responsible for paying certain state employment taxes such as workers’ compensation insurance and unemployment insurance taxes. The following states/territories also require a business to pay for temporary disability insurance:

  • California
  • Hawaii
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Rhode Island
  • Puerto Rico

Find your Tax Obligations by State

Use the links below to find out more about the business tax requirements in your state or territory.

Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Register Your Business Name

Naming your business is an important branding exercise, but if you choose to name your business as anything other than your own personal name then you’ll need to register it with the appropriate authorities.

This process is known as registering your “Doing Business As” (DBA) name.

What is a “Doing Business As” Name?

A fictitious name (or assumed name, trade name or DBA name) is a business name that is different from your personal name, the names of your partners or the officially registered name of your LLC or corporation.

It’s important to note that when you form a business, the legal name of the business defaults to the name of the person or entity that owns the business, unless you choose to rename it and register it as a DBA name.

For example, consider this scenario: John Smith sets up a painting business. Rather than operate under his own name, John instead chooses to name his business: “John Smith Painting”. This name is considered an assumed name and John will need to register it with the appropriate local government agency.

The legal name of your business is required on all government forms and applications, including your application for employer tax IDs, licenses and permits.

Do I Need a “Doing Business As” Name?

A DBA is needed in the following scenarios:

  • Sole Proprietors or Partnerships – If you wish to start a business under anything other than your real name, you’ll need to register a DBA so that you can do business as another name.
  • Existing Corporations or LLCs – If your business is already set up and you want to do business under a name other than your existing corporation or LLC name, you will need to register a DBA.

Note: Not all states require the registering of fictitious business names or DBAs.

How to Register your “Doing Business As” Name

Registering your DBA is done either with your county clerk’s office or with your state government, depending on where your business is located. There are a few states that do not require the registering of fictitious business names.

Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Determine Your Federal Tax Obligations

Your federal tax obligations, the tax you pay to the IRS, is determined by the form of business entity that you establish (e.g. sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC). These taxes include:

  • Income tax
  • Self-employment tax (social security and Medicare taxes)
  • Estimated tax (a pay-as-you-go tax)
  • Employer tax (such as withholding tax)
  • Excise tax

Find the Right Tax Form

The forms you use to report your taxes depends on how your business is organized. Find out which forms you need to file:

  • Sole Proprietorship
  • Partnership
  • Corporation
  • S Corporation
  • Limited Liability Company (LLC)

Pay your State Income Taxes

In addition to federal taxes, your business must also pay state and local taxes (income, sales tax, and property tax). As with the IRS, the legal structure of your business determines your state income tax obligations. Learn more in our State and Local Tax Guide.

Finance Your Business

SBA Loan Programs

SBA offers a variety of loan programs for very specific purposes. Take some time to study the programs described in this section, to see if you qualify to participate.

  • Small Business Loans: SBA Advantage Loans…

    SBA Advantage Loans include financial help for businesses with special requirements.

  • Microloan Program

    SBA’s Microloan Program provides small, short-term loans to small business concerns and certain types of not-for-profit child-care centers.

  • Real Estate & Equipment Loans: SBA Grow…

    This loan program provides financing for major fixed assets such as equipment or real estate.

  • Disaster Loans

    SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to businesses of all sizes, private non-profit organizations, homeowners, and renters. SBA disaster loans can be used to repair or replace the following…

  • Loan Programs

    From starting up or expanding your business to recovering from disasters, SBA loan programs are available to help your business succeed. You can explore various types of loans that may be available…