Parliament backs GSA to be given autonomy

Parliament has recommended to government to wean-off the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) off government subvention and “clothe” it with more legislative powers to impose administrative fines and destroy impounded substandard goods.

The House is convinced that the GSA would be more financially viable if government allows it to retain 85 per cent of its Internally Generated Fund (IGF) without capping after being weaned off.

To enhance its operations, the Committee on Trade, Industry and Tourism of Parliament, at the plenary on Tuesday, urged the Ministry of Finance to consider restoring the 15 per cent share of the one per cent Destination Inspection Levy to the GSA without being capped.

The motion for adoption of the report, read by Mr Ato Panford, the Deputy Chairman of the Committee, and seconded by Mr Yussif Sulemana, Deputy Ranking Member, received a resounding ‘aye,’ signalling the acceptance of the House in support of the call to consolidate all existing legislation for effective administration of GSA’s responsibilities.

The move, when granted, would also enable the Authority to gain its financial and administrative autonomy.

The report of the Committee stemmed from an enquiry by the Committee, directed by the Speaker, on the “Challenges of Imported Sub-standard Electrical Cables, Gadgets and Accessories” in April, 2019.

It came out that from 2003 up to August 2015 the GSA received 15 per cent of the one per cent Destination Inspection Levy on all imports into the country, which translates into an average of $700,000 per month.

The Committee said it was also informed that between September and December 2015, the Authority did not receive any monthly allocation.

However, in January 2016, an administrative order from the Economic Management Team of the Presidency reduced 15 per cent to three per cent, which was further capped to 1.5 per cent in line with the Earmarked Funds and Capping Realignment Act 2017 (Act 947), resulting in a reduction of GSA funds to GH¢500,000 per month.

The Committee observed that the GSA had been weakened by the amendment of the Exports and Import Act, 1995 (Act 503) and by the introduction of the Export and Import Amendment Act 2000, which provides for destination inspection.

It came to the fore that collection and disbursement of revenue is being handled by the Ghana Revenue Authority, an agency under the Ministry of Finance, but not mandated by law.

As a result the GSA was unable to conduct frequent and effective market surveillance, test products prior to exports, procure analytical equipment, equip its labs and expand its scope of services to industries.

Later, Mr Panford told journalists that action on the proposed GSA Bill, which seeks to help eliminate duplication of roles and conflict with other statutes and regulations should be expedited by Cabinet and tabled before Parliament for consideration without delay.

On the assignment from the Speaker, Mr Panford said the GSA in August 2018 undertook an exercise at selected markets in Accra and Kumasi where they sampled some products.

The products included electrical cables, electrical accessories, electrical gadgets, electrical appliances, footwear, bags, dresses, vehicle spare parts, household appliances and accessories among others.

He said over 90 per cent of the products that were tested failed the critical parameters that had to do with health and safety implications.

He said the presence of sub-standard electrical products circulating on the market posed a huge risk of fire outbreak, which could endanger lives and property.

Also, coupled with the fact that the GSA had no storage facilities for such compounded non-conforming goods whiles the market is inundated with goods, which do not meet standards with its attendant risk to health, lives and poverty.

Therefore, he suggested the need to dispose them off immediately upon confiscation to prevent it from getting back onto the market.

Mr Panford said there were delays in the adjudication of cases related to sub-standard, low quality, certified, non-calibrated, damaged goods and equipment.

This is because no specialised court existed to deal swiftly with most cases to help sanitise the system, and recommended the establishment of a Specialised Quality Court to fast-track adjudication of quality related cases.

He noted that the measurement of crude oil, natural gas and other hydrocarbons was at the heart of government’s fiscal oil and gas transaction.

Mr Pamford  said the Committee was informed that Ghana did not have a National Hydrocarbon Measurement Standards (NHMS), which could help facilitate a transparent audible process in the transfer of liquid and gaseous hydrocarbon products for financial transactions.

He said the GSA had extended an invitation to the Ministry of Trade and Industry for a Private-Public Agreement for the development the NHMS for the Authority.

Source: GNA

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