Accra, Feb. 5, GNA – People’s Dialogue on Human Settlement, a community-based Non-governmental Organisation, has facilitated a meeting between workers in the informal economy sector and the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development to address the sector’s concerns.
The policy dialogue also afforded opportunity for both parties to interact on the way forward to develop the sector with drawing support from the formal economy for a better Ghana.
The informal workers raised series of concerns about their daily work that ranged from accusation of city officials of double taxation and lack of transparency to harassment and confiscation of articles.
Mr Enock Bio, Leather products seller, accused officials of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly of double taxing traders, 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.
“Some come in the morning, some in the afternoon and sometimes evening,’ he said, raising the suspicion that some of them could be unauthorized officers.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) called for the formalization of the informal sector and building the capacities of the workers as well as giving them legal and social protection.
Togbe Adom Drayi II, Head of Heads of Organizations, TUC, said the sector has contributed significantly to making Ghana’s economy to expand and improve dramatically.
However, he noted that, it was still viewed as the ‘shadow economy by the formal sector, as being communities that are lacking in visibility, voice, representation and access to basic goods and services.’
‘It also indicates the tension and suspicion that has created a growing gap between the two sectors in the city’, he added.
Togbe Drayi cited problems facing the sector as lack of policy framework, unclearly identified sector Ministry responsible for the economy, very difficult access to credit, fear and threats of evictions, fire outbreaks and floods, sanitation problems, inadequate and less functional market infrastructure and services.
Mr Farouk Braimah, Executive Director, People’s Dialogue, said although it is estimated that 80 per cent employed population or labour force can be found in the informal sector of which majority are women, the informal sector is not respected by the formal sector.
Mr Braimah said informal trading spaces are often fragile and the traders were without the capacity to insure themselves against risks such as fires and damage due to civil unrest.
He urged city authorities 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.
‘It’s important to look for the best steps going forward in developing our informal economy with support from the formal economy for a better Ghana’, he added.
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.
The sector is estimated to employ about 80 per cent of Ghana’s labour force; however, they faced numerous challenges which needed to be managed institutionally.
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; with over 88 per cent of them being women, with the majority in the informal sector in Accra.
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