The second National Orientation Workshop on Competition Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare in Developing countries (CREW Project) has taken place in Accra.

The CREW Project aims to address the challenge of weak competition enforcement and to attract attention to competition reforms in the developing world, including Ghana.

It is being implemented by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International in four countries —Ghana, India, Philippines and Zambia— with support from the British Department for International Development (DfID) and BMZ of Germany, and facilitated by the German Development Co-operation (GIZ).

In Ghana, the project, involving three Ministries— Transport, Food and Agriculture, and Trade and Industry, with ISSER as its research partner —is to demonstrate measurable benefits from an effective competition policy and law regime in developing countries for ensuring competition reforms.

The workshop, organized by the Ghana Centre of CUTS, therefore, aimed to enable participants to understand that a successful reform initiative requires evidence in order to adopt an inclusive approach and a sound advocacy plan for stakeholders to understand the need for suggested reforms and get actively involved.

It was on the theme: ‘Evidence-based Stakeholder-informed Approach to Competition Reforms’

In an address at the opening of the workshop, yesterday, a representative of the Ministry of Transport, Mr Rudolf Beckley, underscored the importance of government policies in market competition and regulation including road transportation in particular and the transport industry as a whole.

Mr Beckley disclosed that government was, therefore, instituting a Regulatory Framework for the Road Transport industry and that the Regulations had been submitted to Cabinet for approval and onward transmission to Parliament.

In a presentation, Ms Edayatu Lamptey, Programmes Associate, CUTS Ghana, outlined some key recommendations including establishment of a Road Transport Authority (RTA) and the need for priority attention for the implementation of the proposed functions of the RTA.

Other recommendations, Ms Lamptey said, were the close supervision of the activities of transport unions and the attraction of investors from emerging economies to set up bus manufacturing or assembling plants in order to promote competition in the passenger bus transport sector.

Furthermore, she said, there was also the need for route allocation reforms through incentive packages in order to attract services to poorly-serviced areas. She disclosed that the Ministry of Trade and Industry was working towards developing a national competition regime for Ghana.

Ms Lamptey expressed CUTS’s interest in replicating CREW Project in other areas such as the banking and petroleum sectors.

In a presentation on the Framework on Competition Reforms (FCR), Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, Ghana Country Co-ordinator, CUTS, noted that consumer and producer welfare would be greatly enhanced if competition laws and policies were adopted.

Mr Adomako said a competition regime in Ghana would put an end to bid rigging and collusion tendering which fed into high tariffs and rising cost of living. He said FCR was, therefore, developed under the CREW Project as a tool kit to help plan and implement pro-competitive reforms in key sectors of the economy.

Mr Clement Onyango, Country–Co-ordinator, CUTS Kenya, in his remarks, noted that a good competition policy was a concomitant requirement for market-based reforms.

For her part, Mad Lydia Abbey, a representative of the Market Queens Association and Board member, Ghana Commodity Exchange (GCE) expressed concern about the poor state of the roads leading to farm gates which, she said, affected the cost of purchases, leading to high prices of foodstuffs.

Madam Abbey, therefore, urged government to improve upon the condition of the roads.

Rijit Senguputa, Director CUTS International, reiterated the importance of a competition regime as a tool for market-based reforms.

The Board Chairman, CUTS Ghana and Chairman for the occasion, Prof. Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Baah, said the CREW Project was a remarkable example of South-South co-operation.

Prof Justice Date-Baah noted that a competition policy was an important mix of promoting consumer welfare, adding that the workshop was an important landmark to determine how far Ghana had reached in its quest for a competition policy and consumer welfare and protection.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)

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