Members of Parliament from both sides of the House, together with the Speaker of Parliament, have supported calls for a review of the legal mandate of the Ghana Standards Authority.
The review is aimed at supporting the authority with the appropriate legislation with deterrent fines and the power to destroy all sub standard goods on the Ghanaian market.
The House supported the call following a statement made on the floor by the Member of Parliament for Shama, Mr Ato Panford, who also doubles as the Vice Chairman for the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism.
The statement was on the risk sub-standard imported electrical cables and gadgets to consumers.
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“If we do not support the GSA in dealing with the problem of the huge presence of sub-standard products circulating on our markets, we stand a huge risk of bearing the brunt of high fire outbreaks and deception of consumers by importers wrongfully labeled products,” he stated.
In August 2018, the GSA undertook a wider exercise at selected markets in Accra and Kumasi and some of the products which were sampled included electrical cables, electrical accessories, electrical gadgets, electrical appliances and household appliances and accessories.
Others included footwear’s, bags, dresses and vehicle spare parts and their accessories.
Mr Panford pointed out that 90 per cent of the products which were sampled failed the labeling requirements, while majority also failed the test for critical parameters which had health and safety implications.
He said this was not good for the country and, therefore, called for measures to deal with this menace.
Overhaul of legislation
The Minority Leader, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, commenting on the statement called for a complete overhaul of the legislation which mandates the GSA.
He said the 1973 Act which mandated the GSA was outdated and needed an overhaul to reposition the authority as a quality standards institution to support the country.
“As far back as 2013 when I was the Minister of Trade and Industry, I submitted to Cabinet a request for the revision of the Act,” he noted.
“As vice chairman of the committee on trade and industry, I asked that he should be speaking with the minister who should go to Cabinet and seek a revision of the existing legislation,” he advised.
Necessary support for GSA
The Member of Parliament for Bole Bamboi, Mr Sulemana Yusif, also commenting on the statement said the mandate of the GSA was very vague and huge and ,therefore, called for the necessary support to review it.
He said many domestic fire outbreaks could be attributed to sub-standard gadgets and electricals.
In 2018, about 3,283 fire outbreaks were recorded and most of these were attributed to sub-standard cables.
“The government is trying to industrialise our economy which is very appropriate but we cannot industrialise if we do not have standards,” he noted.
He said some of the challenges of the GSA included few personnel and inadequate resources.
“The government capped their revenues and that is also a source of worry to the authority.
I believe that if we give the GSA the necessary support, they will be able to employ many hands to deliver its mandate,” he pointed out.
The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mr Joseph Osei-Owusu, said the menace of sub-standard products on the market reflected the character of individuals in the country.
“We take advantage of every opportunity to cheat and make money irrespective of the consequences to others,” he stated.
“Those bringing in the sub-standard goods know the goods are sub-standard.
They actually go and demand or procure standards which they know are low and are ready to compromise any official so that they could sell the products on the market.
We have GSA officials at the ports so how is it that these people do not detect the substandard products?” he asked.
“All these sub-standard products pass through these officials we have put there, the same officials we are saying we should resource,” he indicated.
He said the major challenge was, therefore, the character of these officials.
Directive to legal department
The Speaker of Parliament, Professor Mike Oquaye for his part said, “In view with the fact that the Minority Leader had done some work on this matter before, and I believe that with our decision to help with legislation, the time has come for us to unearth all these documents and then with the help of our newly established legal department start to work on this.”
“Houses are being burnt for nothing because of compromised cables. And we all know that there is a lot of things that are happening which are not just good enough and as Parliament, we need to work to improve upon the system,” he added.