The Parliamentary Select Committee on Roads and Transport intends to use the expertise of the Ghana Chamber of Shipping (GCS) in the consideration and passage of legislation on the maritime trade sector.
According to the Chairman of the committee, Mr Samuel Ayeh-Paye, the chamber had the requisite expertise to assist Members of Parliament (MPs) on the committee to build their capacity and enhance knowledge in the sector to ensure that legislations passed could stand the test of time.
Mr Ayeh-Paye made this known when members of the Executive Council of the GSC, a maritime policy think tank, paid a courtesy call on the committee in Parliament in Accra last Tuesday.
He maintained that the chamber was very important to the work of the committee, since it would afford the two bodies the opportunity to forge a closer relationship for the drafting of policies backed by a strong legal regime.
The GCS, which is chaired by a former Director-General of the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA), Mr Ben Owusu-Mensah, with Dr Kofi Mbiah of Shipman Consult as its Chief Executive Officer, is to provide technical support in the areas of research and development, legal and labour issues, international trade, among others, for the government and relevant stakeholders.
Mr Ayeh-Paye pointed out that MPs often found themselves at the mercy of sponsors of bills in Parliament owing to the MPs’ deficiency in various subject areas.
“We have no research assistants for gathering the necessary information on bills that come to the House for passage and often have to rely on the sponsoring agencies, a development which sometimes goes to affect the quality of laws that are passed by the House,” he stated.
Presently, he said, the committee was working on the Draft Ghana Maritime Authority (GMA) Shipping Service Providers Regulations and the Draft Domestic Shipping Regulations, popularly known as the Cabotage Law, which seek to domesticate certain activities within the maritime and shipping sector, saying the chamber had been of immense assistance to the committee.
The Ranking Member of the committee, Mr Kwame Agbodza, suggested that the chamber should institute industry policy dialogue sessions and training programmes for parliamentarians on shipping to help them build capacity.
“We see your platform as one from which we can tap knowledge, considering your years of experience in the sector; and we see this partnership as a very important step in helping shape policy direction,” he stated.
The Deputy Minister of Transport, Mr Daniel Titus-Glover, lamented the minimal participation of local businesses in shipping agency activities which were at the mercy of foreign entities.
“Our ministry will be pleased to receive the comments of the chamber on the two draft policy legislations as Parliament seeks to legislate local content provisions for the sector,” he stated.
Mr Owusu-Mensah pointed out that the issue of the regulation of the commercial sector of the industry had remained a matter of concern to industry players, saying the chamber would willingly offer advice should the committee and the ministry so desire.
“The chamber will, in the coming weeks, organise a roundtable on local content in the maritime industry to deliberate on shipping lines engaged in shipping agency jobs,” he said.