“Ghana Needs Competition Law and Policy without Delay”: Justice Samuel Date-Bah

“The Ghanaian economy needs competition law and policy to ensure its proper functioning in the interest of consumers and producers. It is thus of legitimate public policy interest to ascertain the health of competition law and policy in Ghana and West Africa, at both the national and sub-regional levels including the interactions between the national and regional policy process on this issue,” asserted Justice Samuel Date-Bah, Retired Justice of Supreme Court of Ghana and Chairman of University of Ghana Council, while speaking at a Policy Roundtable Discussion on Competition Reforms in Ghana organised by CUTS International here in Accra.

He added that the plain truth is that Ghana does not have comprehensive competition legislation, in spite of having had a few draft statutes formulated which never caught the fancy of policymakers as a priority matter. Further, various pieces of legislation have been passed in the country which have an impact on competition and competitive behaviour in key markets, such as the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act,1997 (Act 538) and the Protection against Unfair Competition Act, 2000 (Act 589). However, the country is yet to establish any entity or authority to monitor competition generally in the economy and to take action to arrest malpractices affecting the competitive process. One may speculate that the political directorate is not yet convinced that it is necessary to police uncompetitive behaviour actively.

He was speaking at the policy roundtable discussion on the theme World Competition Day: Are Businesses and Consumers Loosing out due to absence of a Functional Competition Regime in Ghana.

He also indicated that this roundtable policy discussion should provide a road map as to the direction of Ghana’s competition policy and law. The meeting brought together practitioners, academia, civil societies, development partners, consumer organizations and regulatory authorities to discuss the issue.

Dr Edward Brown, the director of policy advisory services at the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET), indicated that there is the need for Ghana’s competition law and policy to conform to that of regional competition laws and policies such as those of ECOWAS and UEMOA. He further indicated that regulatory bodies to monitor competition in Ghana must have enough power to deal with cartels. He advised that the process being used to develop the competition policy and law for the country should be participatory enough to capture the views and inputs of all stakeholders. He reiterated that, the failure to capture and consider all inputs of various stakeholders will render the policy meaningless.

Marnix Segers, Policy Advisor Trade & Private Sector Development for the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana underscored the need that since competition goes beyond the borders of a country, hence the regional perspective should not be missing in Ghana’s competition policy.

Speaking on the topic Why Ghana Needs To Have Competition Policy and Law, the Centre Coordinator for CUTS Accra, Mr. Appiah Kusi Adomako mentioned that, competition law promotes competition in markets and curbs anti-competitive conducts by firms. In a fair and competitive market there are large numbers of sellers and buyers, variety of quality goods and services for consumers, and free entry and exit for firms. In every market, producers aim is to maximize profit whilst consumers also want to maximize utility. Market competition thus encourages production of goods and services that are desired by consumers, making use of the most cost-effective use of available resources. Thus, consumers get the best possible choice of goods and services at the lowest possible price.

He added that approximately 80 WTO member countries, including some 50 developing and transition countries, have adopted competition laws. Typically, these laws provide remedies to deal with a range of anti-competitive practices, including price fixing and other cartel arrangements, abuses of a dominant position or monopolization, mergers that limit competition, and agreements between suppliers and distributors that foreclose markets to new competitors.

He further added that benefits of Ghana having a competition regime cannot be overemphasised since it promotes economic growth and reduces poverty, stimulates innovation, productivity and competitiveness, contributing to an effective business environment and increases a country’s attractiveness as a business location, triggering national and foreign investments.

The roundtable discussion which occurred on the eve of World Competition Day which falls today 5th December is being celebrated worldwide. A large number of countries have urged the adoption of 5th December as World Competition Day, in order to popularise the need for developing countries to attach greater attention to the process of competition reforms, as a key public policy issue.

For more information, please contact the Centre Coordinator for CUTS Accra:

Email: apa@cuts.org
Phone: 024-392-0926