Ghana: Don’t Abandon Introducing Cement Pricing Li!

One cannot but describe as good the attempt by the Trade and Industry Minister, KT Hammond, to make the government introduce a legislation to control the pricing of cement to protect consumers from “haphazard” increment in prices by manufacturers.

It is, however, unfortunate that his attempt to submit the Legislative Instrument (LI) to Parliament on Wednesday was blocked for lack of consultation.

We think that being a legislator himself, Mr Hammond should have gone through the necessary steps in which case he would have avoided the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Andrew Asiamah Amoako, telling him to have had pre-laying conversations with stakeholders before bringing the LI to the House.

This sort of drawback situation notwithstanding, we still commend the trade minister for his show of concern for the Ghanaian consumer.

As such, we would like to suggest that he should try to add other commodities whose hitting-the-roof prices equally hurt consumers, particularly food items.

We agree just as Mr Hammond is saying that there is the need to appeal to the conscience of cement manufacturers (and the persuasion must be extended to other significant stakeholders like those in the food value chain) but attempts must be made to find out why these stakeholders would not budge in selling at affordable prices.

We can guess that factors like duties on imported inputs and ever-rising cost of other things like labour can restrain industry players to just be benevolent and sell their commodities at affordable prices.

It is a well-known fact that people in business operate for profit and so would do only those things that can bring them the profit.

It is also the case that business people in other jurisdictions are given the needed assistance by the government to leverage it to produce at the cost which helps to sell at affordable prices.

Such a situation also boosts the image of the government.

The hardship in the country, worsened every day by ever-increasing prices of goods and services, discredits the government every moment and it would take only mischievous people and nation wreckers to dismiss this.

Therefore, any attempt by the government to control prices of “essential commodities” like cement and possibly other building materials must gladden the heart of every Ghanaian.

Thus, every means constitutional and democratic must be adopted in that regard because the high prices of such materials are making it difficult for many Ghanaians to put up houses for their use and for rent as the case may be.

Meanwhile, it is an indisputable fact that in Ghana, it is private individuals who are closing the country’s housing deficit and not the government because houses put up by the state and described as affordable are affordable to only the upper class of the society and just a percentage of the middle class.

The rest have to rely on ordinary house owners and no wonder some lower-class members of the society live in kiosks and uncompleted structures in urban and peri-urban communities.

While we talk about legislating the control of prices of goods in the country, we wish to call attention to one important thing Mr Hammond mentions – the substandard nature of goods.

This implies that the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) is not being strict enough on its quality control or standards checks.

Is that the case? Over to you, GSA!