The importance of evidence based advocacy in policy reforms cannot be undermined, since facts and figures are necessary for the development of effective policies, for example in areas of competition reforms and consumer welfare, asserted Prof Felix Asante, Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana while chairing a meeting of national stakeholders.
These stakeholders met to review the advocacy plan of the project entitled, Competitions Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and Economic Welfare in Developing Countries (referred to as the CREW project) in Accra.
CUTS Accra is overseeing the implementation of the CREW project in Ghana. CREW is being implemented in four countries namely, Ghana, Zambia, India and the Philippines with the focal research sectors being the staple food and the bus transport sector. In Ghana Maize and Bus Transport markets are being looked at to examine how competition reforms have or can impact consumers and/or producers.
Upon the completion of the research phase conducted by the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), the CREW project enters into the advocacy and networking phase, where key advocacy issues have been identified for advocacy by CUTS Accra and researchers engaged in preparing the report.
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 (handling/clearance and/or inland transportation). The project will explore this issue with support from the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
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 seems to be dictated by the Transport Unions leading to reduced consumer gains.
A suggestion was made by transport sector expert, Bernard Arthur to identify some of the weaknesses in the Accra Municipal Authority (AMA) s function of supervising urban bus transport and raise the demand for strengthening such functions of the AMA.
In procurement of Maize, the project intends to assess the relationship between the market queens and farmers, especially in terms of price-setting process, price realisation and overall support. Lydia Abbey, the President of Maize Sellers Association of Ghana contributing to the discussions dispelled the notion that the market queens short change the farmers when it comes to buying maize.
She added that the farmers are now sophisticated and make use of cell phones to compare prices from other market centres. She added that some of their members provide interest free loans to the farmers to help boost their production.
Edward Addo Dankwa from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA) emphasized on the need to understand the organization and governance structure of the women traders in the maize procurement and also how best the government and ministry can provide assistance to both maize farmers and the private women traders present in the value chain.
Ed Brown, Director (Policy Advisory Services) at ACET was of the opinion that public transport is a public good and that the involvement both the state and that the private sector is crucial. So, a system of Public Private Partnership (PPP) was critical.
Kofi Amenyah, Director (Legal), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MoTI) in his remarks highlighted that the Ministry appreciates the importance of competition policy for the country. And in this regard, he welcomed the suggestions emerging from the CREW project - as these will help highlight the benefits of competition in the daily lives of the ordinary Ghanaian.
The meeting brought together representatives from the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Ministry of Trade and Industry,(MOTI) , Institute for Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Peasant Farmers Association, Food Sovereignty Ghana Africa, Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) and National Road Safety Commission (NRSC) as well representatives from the Market Queen Associations and Maize Sellers Association of Ghana.
Credit: CUTS Accra