Stakeholders have met to review an advocacy plan of the project, Competitions Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare in Developing Countries (CREW project) in Accra. The project aims to develop an approach which will help assess the impact of competition reforms on consumers and producers in selected markets. One of the goals of the project is to demonstrate the benefits of competition reforms so that greater attention and support can be provided to the issue.
Consumer Unity & Trust Society (CUTS) Accra is overseeing the project. Professor Felix Asante, Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), who chaired the meeting said the project was examining Maize and Bus Transport markets and how competition reforms could impact on consumers and producers in Ghana. According to Prof Asante, Research conducted by ISSER indicated that the CREW project was now in the advocacy and networking phase, adding that key advocacy issues had been identified by CUTS Accra as researchers engaged in preparing the report.
The research findings in the maize sector point towards the possibility of additional costs being paid by the government in subsidies on fertilizers on account of unfair charges being levied in some segments of the domestic supply chain, including handling/clearance and/or inland transportation. On the passenger transport sector, a key finding is the absence of well-defined rules of the game for private players in bus transport.
A regulatory authority is being planned to oversee the road transport sector in the country. This would help bring some balance in the market which seemed to be dictated by the Transport Unions, leading to reduced consumer gains. Mr Bernard Arthur, Transport Sector Expert, suggested for consideration some of the weaknesses in the Accra Metropolitan Assembly’s (AMA) function of supervising urban bus transport and raising the demand for strengthening such functions of the Assembly.
In procurement of Maize, the project intends to assess the relationship between the market queens and farmers, especially in terms of price-setting, price realisation and overall support. Mrs Lydia Abbey, President of the Maize Sellers Association of Ghana, contributing, dispelled the notion that the market queens short change the farmers when it came to buying maize, adding “farmers are now sophisticated and make use of cell phones to compare prices from other market centres.”
Mr Edward Addo Dankwa, Representative of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), stressed the need to understand the organization and governance structure of women traders. In maize procurement, he said, discussions were on-going, to see how best the government could provide assistance to both maize farmers and the private women traders present in the value chain. Mr Kofi Amenyah, Legal Director at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MOTI), underscored the importance of competition policy for the country.
He welcomed the suggestions that emerged from the CREW project, saying, they would help highlight the benefits of competition in the daily lives of the ordinary Ghanaian. The meeting brought together representatives from the MOFA, MOTI, ISSER, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Peasant Farmers Association, Food Sovereignty Ghana, Centre for Economic Transformation and National Road Safety Commission, as well as those from the Market Queen Associations and Maize Sellers Association of Ghana.
CUTS Accra is the third centre of CUTS International in Africa. It serves as a resource centre for information on trade, regulation and governance, with sustainable development being the cross-cutting thread. It also seeks to build local, national and regional capacities of multiple stakeholders on issues based on trade and competition .
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