Dr. Isaac Doku, an Economist and Lecturer at the University of Education, Winneba, has urged the government to set up a board to regulate prices in the country.
According to him, this is the only way the country can contain its price spirals to reduce the cost of living in the country.
“In terms of pricing, government needs to establish a board that will enforce prices. That’s what is done in most countries. Because nobody is controlling prices, so people charge prices at their own conveniences; there is the need to regulate them. During the reign of Nkrumah, they had a board that was supposed to control prices”.Dr. Doku
Dr. Doku explained that in most developed economies, the prices are fixed and are not controlled by the traders. According to him, the price tag on each item is measured in terms of kilograms. He advised that the board, if established, should factor in the brand of the items in its pricing decisions.
“There is nothing you can do about that situation unless the prices are enforced. And the government should be prepared that when there are surpluses in the market, it’s going to buy it, so that it can protect farmers. That’s the only way out”.Dr. Doku
Accra, Most Expensive City in Africa
Numbeo, a crowd-sourced global database of reported consumer prices, ranked Ghana’s capital city, Accra, as the second most expensive city in the world in terms of the property price to income ratio. This sparked debate among Ghanaians but Dr. Doku told the Vaultz news, “this has been an issue not just today”.
“The point is, already, there was a research that ranked Accra the most expensive city in the whole of Africa. But that wasn’t even based on the property price to income ratio. That one, they even used hotels and price of food; still Accra was the most expensive city in the whole of Africa”.Dr. Doku
Even though the Economist admitted the cost of living in Accra is very high, he highlighted that the underground economy, whose activities are not documented, is very large in the country which may have also played a role in Ghana’s position.
“Most people in the underground economy are very rich, their activities are not documented. So, all those people when you look at the computation of the income to the rent ratio, they will be out of it. When we compute our GDP value, they are not even there. There has been a time in the history of Ghana where the richest women in the county were the market women; these are people in the informal economy. The flaws that we have in terms of computing the GDP will also affect the ratio”.Dr. Doku
Need to move the capital away from Accra
The Executive Director of the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBRE), Mr. Newlove Asamoah, proposed that Ghana should consider moving its capital from Accra to Sunyani because of its peaceful nature, “neat and tidy as well as strategic for businesses” in reaction to Accra’s current ranking by Numbeo.
Even though Dr. Doku supports the call to relocate the capital to a different region, he said “If it is based on pricing, then that may not be the solution”.
“However, I support the fact that we move the capital to Sunyani. For me, I think most parts of Accra are very dirty. Even If you want to make Accra the cleanest city, what about the traditional areas? If you go to indigenous Accra, like Osu, Gbawe, and some areas, what do you do? Look at Nima, nothing is being done about Nima. Sunyani is neat, they have a lot of land, and we can move the capital city there”.Dr. Doku
Lot of planning required
He indicated that before Ghana considers moving the capital city, “there is the need for us to plan”.
“You are going to put a plan in place where there will be internet, roads, the ministries and their agencies, accommodation and apartments and all those things. It’s not like we’re moving into Sunyani township, No! We are planning a new city altogether, New capital. For that place, the indigenous areas are already neat so its influence on the main capital will be low”.Dr. Doku
Dr. Doku emphasized that “If we develop our railway systems; things come to the port and we move them there. It’s not a problem, Nigeria has done it and so, it’s not a problem. We will be successful”.
It is however, not certain that “things can be well if we decide to decentralize the governance system and move the capital from Accra to other regions”, as Mr. Newlove Asamoah contended. As the debate continues, more studies should be conducted to ascertain the feasibility of this suggestion but should not be swept under the carpet.