Before a foreign musician or actor can perform in another country, the person needs a work permit to enable him or her to work but the issue seems different when foreign musicians and actors come to Ghana to perform.
A research done by FOCAP, a pressure group within the creative arts industry, has revealed that over the years creative arts professionals who have come to Ghana to ply their trade, have entered the country without any form of a work permit to give them restrictions and to generate revenue for the country.
Creative arts professionals from Ghana to other parts of the world have always paid levies/taxes to their visiting countries.
FOCAP believes it is time the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Tourism Arts, Culture and Creative Arts, the National Commission on Culture, Musicians Union of Ghana, Ghana Music Rights Organization, Film Producers Association, Ministry of Finance and all the relevant domains came to the drawing board to institute some form of by-law that would establish the payment of work permit by foreign nationals who come to ply their trade here.
The just-ended AITEO CAF Awards 2017 that was held in Accra brought Wizkid, Tiwa Savage, Olamide and others from Nigeria. Contracted to thrill the audience at the venue, they had no work permit and didn’t pay any form of tax on the amount they were paid to the government of Ghana.
Media reports have indicated that Wizkid was paid $130,000 to perform at the Awards.
This is not the first time artists have come to Ghana to perform. On March 5, 2013, Chris Brown earned whopping $1 million to perform at rLG’s Hope City launch concert.
Investigations made by this writer have revealed that the A-list Grammy Award winner doesn’t take anything less than $1 million to perform, especially if the gig is outside the United States and the United Kingdom.
Probing the issue on why foreign artistes must obtain work permit from the Ghana Immigration Service before they gain access to perform at any commercial event in Ghana, award-winning Christian Agyei Frimpong, host of Anigye Mmre, an entertainment talk show on Accra-based Onua 95.1 FM, spoke to Ghanaian-based UK event producer and music promoter Nii Ofori Tackie known as DJ Alordia, who has contracted lots of Ghanaian musicians to perform in the UK, on how it’s done in the European country.
According to DJ Alordia, since the artist is coming to work for money, the promoter must apply and pay for the work permit from Immigration Service in the UK. The immigration officials will do a background check on the artiste on the internet and other sources to make sure the person the promoter is bringing is indeed a musician.
“The musician will then apply for a work permit visa in Ghana. Without a permit, you can’t perform. If your permit expires within three days the musician is supposed to leave the country.
“Some people try to be smart. They just take visiting visas for the musicians but when the immigration officials through investigations realize the musician is coming to work, they will quickly return the musician back to his/her country.”
DJ Alordia further disclosed that with the work permit, “it will cost between 200 and 250 pounds if I’m issuing it on my company’s name but event organizers who don’t have permits can contact agencies that can charge them between 500 and 1000 pounds for the permits.”
“There is Foreign Tax entertainment (FTE). Any artiste that comes to the UK to perform, the promoter is supposed to pay between 600 and 800 pounds on each of the artists. Also if we are bringing Shatta Wale and Sarkodie to the UK for an event and they are charging 10,000 pounds each, they are supposed to pay 20% tax each to the UK government but most of the time the musicians don’t understand why they should pay the 20% so we the event promoters end up paying for them,” he added
FOCAP believes the sector minister, Catherine Afeku, should be the leader of this discussion to make sure this is instituted under her watch and to also set up the board for the National Commission on Culture to run effectively because the full capacity of the Commission would be needed in implementing such a measure.