Parliament this week: New law underway to prioritize consumer protection

Contract Amendment Bill

Government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the relevant stakeholders, is putting together a bill to secure the rights of consumers across the board.

Caretaker Minister for Trade and Industry, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor, in a statement on the floor of parliament last Wednesday said the absence of a single legislation for the protection of consumers in the country has created situations where some markets have been left unregulated, leading to constant violations of consumer rights.

This, he noted, has necessitated passage of the Consumer Protection bill – which the ministry is working to bring before parliament for consideration.

“In the coming days, I will be signing a Consumer Protection bill that will be laid before Cabinet for its consideration and approval, and subsequently for the consideration of this august House,” Mr. Jinapor told parliament.

The bill seeks to protect, secure and defend the rights of consumers through a structured institutional mechanism and legal framework that will ensure consumers play a significant role in keeping erring businesses in check; promote competition; and ensure regional integration through digital trade and e-commerce.

Currently, the country’s legal and regulatory framework for the protection of consumer rights is fragmented.

“This phenomenon has led to the creation of different bodies with different jurisdictions: such as the National Communications Authority in respect of electronic communications; the National Petroleum Authority in respect of petroleum products; the Energy Commission and Public Utilities Regulatory Commission in respect of supply, distribution and sale of electricity and natural gas; and the Bank of Ghana in respect of banking services.

“This state of affairs has long been recognised as undesirable, as it has led to a significant part of the market remaining unregulated in terms of consumer protection; leading to constant violation of consumer rights without adequate remedy.

“In those areas that seem to be regulated, there are instances of jurisdictional conflict among the various regulators… leaving the consumer with no remedy. In short, consumers are not getting value for money,” Minister Jinapor said.

With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) coming into force, the caretaker minister and Member of Parliament for Damongo reiterated the importance of a consumer protection law, stressing government’s commitment to its passage.

On the March 15, 2023, the world will be celebrating Consumer Rights Day – a day set aside to raise global awareness about consumer rights and needs, and to advocate for respect and protection of the rights of all consumers; and to protest against market abuses and social injustices that undermine consumer rights.

Caretaker Minister for Trade and Industry, and MP for Damongo, Samuel Abdulai Jinapor

2023 Budget heavily dependent on concessional loans, Treasury bills – Ofori-Atta

…as he courts Parliament support

The Minister of Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has urged arliament to support government’s financing requests that come before the House, in order to ensure implementation of the 2023 budget as it is heavily dependent on Treasury bills and concessional loans.

“As the international and domestic bonds market are shut for financing government’s programmes, we are relying on Treasury bills and concessional loans as the primary sources of financing for the 2023 fiscal year.

“We therefore call on this House to support government’s financing requests to ensure a smooth recovery from the economic challenges,” he said.

The call came when the minister presented to parliament details of the Domestic Debt Exchange Programme (DDEP), in line with request by the Members of Parliament and granted by the Speaker of the Parliament last week.

The finance minister further entreated the house to prioritise approval of outstanding revenue bills and the various concessional facilities, including the economic bailout programme from the International Monetary Fund.

The progamme, he added, will boost government’s efforts at increasing tax to GDP from less that 13 percent to the sub-Saharan average of 18 percent.

Mr. Ofori-Atta in his address also hinted at some additional fiscal measures to ensure economic recovery. “I want to assure you that I will come back to this august House with the necessary fiscal adjustments after the debt operation is completed for your consideration and approval”.

Parliament in December last year approved the 2023 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of government.

25m SIM cards of 42m have been registered so far

The number of people who have completed the process of SIM card registration – that is, stage-two which entails the biometric capturing of SIM card owners data – is 25.2 million out of the total 42.5 million SIMs in Ghana as of February 9, 2023, Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has revealed.

Out of the total number, however, 33.8 million representing 79.60 percent have completed stage-one of the registration, which entails the linking of one’s Ghana Card to a SIM card.

The number of unregistered SIM cards in the country at the time stood at 8.7 million, representing 20.40 percent of the total number of existing ones.

The over-8 million represents those cards whose owners have not attempted to link their Ghana Cards to their SIMs cards

The minister’s statement which was captured in Parliament’s order paper of Tuesday 14th February, 2023 eas in response to a question by MP for Old Tafo, Vincent Ekow Assafuah, regarding progress of the SIM card re-registration exercise.

According to the document, the total number of data SIM cards is 32,287 – of which only 19,514 have been successfully registered while 12,773 are unregistered.

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