The proliferation of fake and substandard products on the Ghanaian market with its accompanying dangers would not be resolved until the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) gets empowered with an updated law capable of curing the anomaly and the modern sophisticated forms they emerge.
Until the passage of the proposed Standards Authority Bill 2021, currently before Parliament, the GSA would continue to underperform not because of an inept leadership but because of a deficient legal backing to perform its mandate.
The Bill, among other things, seeks to consolidate the Standards Authority Act, 1973 (NRCD 173) and the Weights and Measures Act, 1975 (NRCD, 326) into one enactment for effective administration of the GSA’s responsibilities
The GSA, since its establishment 55 years ago, has relied on the Standards Decree, NRCD 173, 1973, as well as the Weights and Measures Decree 326 (1975), which only makes it the custodian of weights and measures in Ghana.
The current law, NRCD 173 of 1973, does not empower the GSA to punish or sanction businesses that manufacture or import sub-standard goods into the country and the Authority is in genuine need of some new and more rigorous legal backing to perform its mandate.
The proposed Standards Bill, when passed into law, would establish the GSA as the Authority responsible for the establishment and promulgation of standards, enforcement of conformity assessment programmes, and regulation of activities in respect of weights and measures in the country. It further seeks to revise the law relating to standardisation, conformity assessment and metrology.
The Bill, when passed, would strengthens and expand the Authority’s scope of operations to confront the challenges in relation to standards, conformity assessment and metrology-related programmes due to modernisation and technological development.
The Bill was mentioned on the business schedule presented to Parliament at the start of this week and it is expected that the House would treat it with some sense of urgency.
The fear is however that the House may drag its feet over the Bill while the influx of low standard products continue to flood the local markets and create all manner of avoidable challengers for the industry and trading community.
Even in the midst of the current handicap faced by the GSA through no fault it; the current management has found creative ways of managing the situation.
For instance, it has engaged the services of 200 trainees of the Nation Builders Corps (NABCO) to help ensure that imported goods and those manufactured in the country meet acceptable standards.
The enforcement officers, known as the Trading Standards Officers (TSOs), have been drafted in to conduct market surveillance and other activities to weed out fake brands and inject sanity in the trading of goods in the country.
The Authority has kick-started series of training programmes for the TSOs, who are expected to commence work as soon as the exercise is completed.
The TSOs would conduct routine checks or investigate complaints on local traders and businesses.
Beyond their activities to rid the market of substandard goods, the TSOs will also advise consumers and businesses on the laws and regulations in relation to standards and investigate suspected offences through undercover or surveillance work as well as prepare evidence for
The GSA also recently cooperated with the Ghana Union Traders Association (GUTA) to embark on a market surveillance exercise to rid the Ghanaian market of substandard products.