Business News of Thursday, 5 February 2015
Workers in the informal sector, predominantly street traders, are demanding inclusion in the national decision making processes, especially in fee-fixing and tax collection at the assemblies.
Speaking at a policy dialogue between the workers and the Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, the workers accused the city officials of double taxation, lack of transparency and harassment.
Mr Enock Bio, Leather products seller, accused officials of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly of double taxation, issuing fake tickets and failing to show transparency in fixing market fees.
He alleged that different groups of city authorities ‘harass’ the over 200,000 workers to collect different amounts of tolls at different times of the day, saying “some come in the morning, some in the afternoon and sometimes evening,” raising the suspicion that some of them could be unauthorized officers.
He expressed worry that large sums of taxes were taken from workers in the informal economy sector yet little was done to improve the unhygienic environment they worked in thus exposing them to contagious diseases and fire outbreaks.
Mrs Susana Yeboah, cosmetics seller, called on the Ghana National Fire Service to carry out regular public education for the workers, particularly market women, to forestall frequent fire outbreaks that had destroyed property worth millions of cedis and killed dozens.
She urged the Electricity Company of Ghana to check illegal power connections and stabilise the power supply since, in her view, were largely responsible for many fire outbreaks.
Mrs Rose Awougya, welle (hide) seller, noted that failure of policy makers to involve people working in the informal sector was responsible for the bad drainage systems, poor layout and insanitary conditions at the market places.
The workers appealed to the Local Government Minister, Mr Julius Debrah, to allow them to be part of the decision making process affecting their daily lives for better provision of services and contribution to the national development agenda.
Responding, Mr Debrah said the Government needed the informal sector to augment and contribute better to the transformational growth of the economy and would, therefore, act on their concerns through official communication to the various assemblies.
“We will give a directive to the assemblies to remind them of their obligation to organise a forum with all relevant stakeholders before fee fixing,” he said.
He refuted the claim that there was no policy in the informal sector, noting that what was lacking was how to implement those policies to benefit the people.
Mr Farouk Braimah, Executive Director of People Dialogue on Human Settlement, a community-based Non-governmental Organisation, who organised the meeting, said the informal sector was estimated to employ about 80 per cent of Ghana’s labour force, however, they faced numerous challenges which needed to be managed institutionally.
He said city authorities needed to work closely with co-ordinated groups of traders to find ways of redeveloping the city and market spaces and provide more security for the traders, goods and physical infrastructure.
People’s Dialogue on Human Settlement was set up to provide professional, technical and strategic support to poor urban communities aimed at improving the quality of life of slum dwellers and the urban poor by involving them in the development of urban infrastructure and services.
There are nearly 214,500 workers who have been registered; over 88 per cent of them are women with the majority in the informal sector in Accra.