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 make the passage of the Competition Policy and Law a legislative agenda for 2015.
Mr Appiah Kusi Adomako, Country Co-ordinator of CUTS Ghana, made the call at a Roundtable Conference to mark on World Competition Day in Accra.
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 celebrated on the theme ‘It’s Time to Pass a National Competition Law for Ghana.’ Mr Adomako 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 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. He 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.
In a presentation on ‘Competition Issues in Public Procurement’, Mr Adomako said Public Procurement was an essential tool for national development when done on a level playing field. He identified bid suppression schemes, complementary bidding and bid rotation schemes as some of the competition or Anti-trust issues in public procurement. In bid suppression schemes, he said, one or more competitors who otherwise would be expected to bid, or who had previously bid, would agree to refrain from bidding or withdraw a previously submitted bid so that the designated winning competitor’s bid would be accepted.
He said Complementary bidding occurred when some competitors would agree to submit bids that either were too high to be accepted or contain special terms that would not be acceptable to the buyer. Such bids, he said, were not intended to secure the buyer’s acceptance, but were merely designed to create a (false) appearance of genuine competitive bidding. On the other hand, he said, in bid rotation schemes, all conspirators would submit bids but take turns being the low bidder, allocating equal amounts to each conspirator or allocating volumes that corresponded to the size of each conspirator company.
He said the single or sole sourcing in public procurement should give value or money and that the Public Procurement Act, 2003 (Act 663) should not allow public officials to bend the rules when doing public procurement. Mr Adomako said aspects of National Competition Law, when passed, could address the issue of non-competitive tendering, adding that a competition policy and law would ensure that tax payers got value for money for goods and services. CUTS Ghana is registered is non-profit organization which works in the areas of consumer protection, economic regulation, trade and development, regional integration and competition policy and law, among others. With funding support from the Business Advocacy Challenge (BUSAC) Fund, CUTS Ghana recently launched a project referred to as the Competition and Advocacy Project (COMPAD Project).
The 15-month project, titled “Advocating for a Functional Competition Regime/ Framework,” is to be implemented in three phases, with the aim of complementing government’s efforts towards evolving a functional national competition policy and law in Ghana. Apart from the COMPAD Project, CUTS is also executing the Competition Reforms in Key Markets for Enhancing Social and economic Welfare in Developing countries (CREW Project). The project, involving three Ministries– Transport, Food and Agriculture, and Trade and Industry, with ISSER as its research partner –is to demonstrate measurable benefits from an effective competition policy and law regime in developing countries for ensuring competition reforms Ghana as a country does not have a functional competition regime and it is expected that the efforts of CUTS through the CREW and COMPAD projects would feed into developing a sustainable competition policy and law for the country.
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