… but regulator says amount is statutory
The Ghana National Tailors and Dressmakers Association (GNTDA) has described as expensive the annual Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) homemade face mask certification fee of GHȼ350 – which comprises a registration fee of GH¢250 annually and a facility licencing fee of GH¢100 (paid once).
According to the association, even though the amount might seem little it is a huge challenge for many of the members who survive on the meagre profit they make every day on their operations, and would want government to help in reducing the cost.
“If government can do something about it for us, we will be very happy. This will also help us to reduce the price of face masks on the market and ensure that everyone is wearing a face mask. Most of our members live from hand to mouth. In this situation, which we all know are not normal times, they have consumed all the profit they made before the COVID-19 outbreak,” the President of the Association, Joana Eshun, told the B&FT in an interview.
The FDA met the association last week to sensitise its members on the proper ways of tailoring face masks, and also entreated them to get certification from the Authority.
At the meeting, Madam Eshun asked the FDA if the association can register on regional basis or national level. “They told us that it can be done, but we need to have one centre where they will come and inspect to certify its standard before members can use the centre. But they won’t allow everyone to do it from their own places if the location is not up to standard.”
She noted that members are being advised to form partnerships and pay for the certification. “Two or three people can come together, get a place that is befitting and get certified. That is a good way to go around this. You get the unique number from the FDA and emboss it on the mask.”
But the FDA says the amount is statutory and therefore little can be done to bring it down. Speaking in an interview with the B&FT, the Head of Medical Devices Department of the FDA, Joseph Yaw-Bernie Bennie, said the annual registration fee of GH¢250 amounts to about 70 pesewas a day – therefore it is a bit curious that such an amount is termed expensive.
“Nose masks are part of the equipment classified as medical devices and are regulated world over. Also, no regulation is free in any part of the world. People have brought their stuff here; we went through and did not pass it.
“We do thorough work before we pass a product. The money we take is not for us; it is for government. It is a statutory money for government, and people should appreciate that. We understand that these are being produced locally, and we are ensuring we get as many people as we can to produce it at a cheap cost,” Mr. Bennie said.
He concluded by advising Ghanaians to do well and buy certified masks so as to really protect themselves from the virus.