The Ghana National Tailors and Dressmakers Association (GNTDA) has a point.
While government has made it mandatory for everyone to wear face-masks to prevent spread of the deadly COVID-19, the annual certification fee of GHȼ350 by the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA) for homemade face masks can be considered expensive – particularly at a time like this when government has decided to absorb utility and other statutory charges for basic services like water and electricity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even though the amount might seem little, it is a huge challenge for many of their members who survive on meagre profits they make every day on their operations. That is why the Association is requesting government to intervene and help in reducing the cost.
FDA met the Association last week to sensitise its members on the proper way of tailoring face masks, and also entreated them to get certification from the Authority.
FDA says the amount is statutory and therefore little can be done to bring the fee down, but we believe that these are extra-ordinary times and the FDA can also apply a waiver of some sort to get the eager dressmakers and tailors to comply with government’s desire to promote the local manufacture of essential medical supplies to combat COVID-19 head-on.
Although we agree with the FDA when it says no regulation is free in any part of the world, we are thinking about how the economy has slowed with the pandemic’s advent and how it is affecting all manner of businesses, not to mention dressmakers, seamstresses and tailors. A middle way can be found, and we believe government has to intervene on their behalf.
When the pandemic is over and dressmakers want to continue manufacturing face-masks, then they can conform to the statutory charge – even if it means getting parliamentary approval. We believe the pandemic will not be with us forever, so we need to factor that as well.
It is only a stop-gap measure that will soon be halted. We must also allow these dressmakers to seize the opportunity COVID-19 presents to maximise their returns, so that they can cater to the needs of their families and dependents in this difficult time.