Ghana must enforce competition law without delay – Stakeholders

By Francis Ntow/Dorphina Ansah

Accra, March 30, GNA – Stakeholders in the business fraternity are advocating for the speedy passage of a Competition Law to guide business operations in the country.

They say the implementation of such pro-private sector consumer regulation would ensure businesses and companies compete fairly with each other, encourage enterprise and efficiency, create a wider choice for consumers, reduce prices and improve quality.

Ghana started the process of having a competition law in 2006. The Ministry of Trade and Industry is soon to present a draft bill to Cabinet for consideration before it is laid before Parliament for the legislative process.

Ghana’s competition law is intended to promote a healthy and equitable market, increase productivity, and end anti-competitive behaviour.

It is expected to be aligned with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) competition framework, as well as international best practices.

At a meeting in Accra on Thursday, the stakeholders, including business executives, advocacy, and consumer groups, urged the Government to make the passage of the bill a priority.

Mr Appiah Adomako Kusi, West Africa Regional Director, CUTS International noted that while about 70 per cent of African countries had Competition Laws, Ghana was yet to pass its bill into law.

He said that the closest the country had done in that regard had been the Protection Against Unfair Competition Act (Act 589), which had not addressed the full dimension of restrictive trade practices.

“State Parties recognise that certain business practices of service suppliers, other than those concerning monopolies and exclusive service suppliers, may restrain competition and thereby restrict trade in services,” Article 12 of the AfCFTA agreement states.

The AfCFTA agreement makes provisions for Each State Party to request of any other State Party, enter consultations to eliminate such practices.

“In the absence of competition law, what we’re seeing is that some businesses are engaged in restrictive trade practices like price fixing, bid rigging and abuse of dominance, and when this happens, consumers suffer in the market,” Mr Kusi said.

He also said that the implementation of the competition law would eliminate cartels controlling the provision, supply and manufacturing of goods and services in the country.

Mr George Owusu Ansah, representing the Executive Director of the United Kingdom-Ghana Chamber of Commerce (UKGCC) also pointed out that the law, when passed, would create a level playing field and ensure market efficiency.

He urged all private sector players to rally support for the competition bill’s passage into law and its subsequent implementation, especially with the onset of AfCFTA.

Mes Harriet Clare Thompson, the British High Commissioner to Ghana noted that effective competition in the market would be beneficial to the Ghanaian economy, and support trade development and investment not only in the U.K. but around the world.

She said Ghana’s in-depth trade and leadership in trade policy in Africa would further support the country’s implementation of AfCFTA and ECOWAS competition laws.