The Ghana Office of the Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International has appealed to the Government of Ghana and the Ministry of Trade and Industry to speed up the process of developing a functional competition regime for Ghana.

Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, Country Co-ordinator of CUTS Ghana, who made the call at a Forum to mark World Competition Day in Accra on Wednesday, noted that to strengthen competition and the power of consumers, and make enterprise and productivity the cornerstone of Ghana’s economic transformation, a well-developed competition regime was required.

Mr Adomako said the global view was that a national competition policy and law infused a level playing field in key markets and enhanced predictability and certainty in the market, thereby stimulating entrepreneurship and economic growth, with benefits for both consumers and producers.

He noted that businesses and consumers in Ghana continued to suffer largely due to the absence of a functional competition regime in the country, adding that in the absence of competition, firms engaged in bad practices like the abuse of monopoly, price fixing, cartelization of goods and services, bid rigging and exclusive market sharing agreement, among others.

He said competition was a fundamental tenet of well-functioning markets, encouraged companies to provide consumers with the products and services that they wanted and resulted in the lowering of prices for goods and services, better service quality, wider choices for consumers, stimulation of innovation and, more importantly, efficiency in allocation of resources.

Mr Adomako said a competition law was key to consumer protection as well as industry growth and that a functional competition regime consisted of a national competition policy and a competition law implemented by a well-resourced competition authority.

Touching on the cement industry in Ghana, he noted that competition was the wave of the future as the presence of multiple players had resulted in competition in the sector, resulting in the production of better quality cement while firms were now marketing cement rather than selling them.

In a presentation on ‘Unfair Trade Practices & Remedies under World Trade Organization (WTO) Law’, Mr Abubakari Zakari, Trade Economist & Policy Analyst indicated that WTO principles demanded that the trading system should be without discrimination, freer, predictable, more competitive and more beneficial for less-developed countries.

Mr Zakari said a country should not discriminate between its trading partners nor discriminate between its own and foreign products, services or nationals (national treatment); that barriers to free trade should be eliminated through negotiation; that all parties in the trading system should be confident that trade barriers (tariffs and NTBs) should not be raised arbitrarily; and that “unfair” practices such as export subsidies and dumping products at below cost to gain market share be discouraged.

The Board Chairman, CUTS Ghana and Chairman for the occasion, Prof. Justice Samuel Kofi Date-Baah, noted that a competition policy was an important mix of promoting consumer welfare.

Prof. Date-Baah, therefore, pledged the commitment of CUTS to working closely with senior policy makers, Members of Parliament and business leaders to deepen their understanding on the benefits of a functional competition regime.

World Competition Day, which aims to raise awareness about competition-related issues, is celebrated in about 100 countries worldwide and was first marked in Ghana by CUTS in 2013.

This year’s World Competition Day was commemorated in Ghana under the aegis of CUTS Accra on the theme ‘Cement Market: Competition or Unfair Trade Practice.’

CUTS International is a non-governmental organization pursuing social justice and economic equity.

Established in 1983 as a voice of the poor to express their developmental needs and aspirations, CUTS International is a leading Southern voice and face of consumer empowerment through its rights-based approach and activities for influencing the process and content of inclusive growth and development.

With its headquarters and three programme centres in Jaipur, India; one each in Chittorgarh and Calcutta; an advocacy centre in New Delhi, India; and five overseas centres in Lusaka, Zambia; Nairobi, Kenya; Accra, Ghana; Hanoi, Vietnam and in Geneva, Switzerland, the organization has established its relevance and impact in policy-making circles, among the larger development community in the developing world and at the international level.

Source: ISD (G.D. Zaney)