Nii Armah Ashietey, Greater Accra Regional Minister on Tuesday advised traders to take advantage of the favourable economic environment in the country and enroll with Government’s Local Enterprises and Skills Development Programme (LESDEP) as well as source support from its Micro-Finance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC).
“You have to empower yourselves financially, and build your capacities so that you can use trade to contribute effectively to the national economy,” he said.
Nii Armah Ashietey gave the advice in a speech read on his behalf by Nii Djanmah Vanderpuye, Presidential Aide at the inauguration of the Novotel Market Traders Association (NOVMATA) at Odawna in Accra into the General Agricultural Workers Union (GAWU) and to sworn into office the seven-member executive of the Association.
He said government would on its part continue to remain firmly committed to initiatives that would go a long way to address trade-related development concerns, particularly of petty traders.
Speaking on the theme, “Empowering Traders for Development,” the Regional Minister said trade and development were mutually reinforcing and deeply complementary and that NOVMATA should use its affiliation with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, Ministry of Trade and Industry and other allied institutions to better their lot.
Nii Armah Ashietey said 80 per cent of Ghana’s economy was found in the informal economy and therefore there was the need to organize workers in the sector into associations and unions.
“Despite the vigorous and at times strong debates as to whether trade in real sense constitutes the key to accelerate the developmental agenda of the Ghanaian economy, we must never lose sight of the reality that trade has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, expanded individual opportunities, and contributed enormously to an acceleration of economic development across the world,” he stressed.
He said whilst government recognized the importance of traders in nation building, it was equally important for the traders to do well to co-operate with government through the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to create job opportunities.
The Secretary General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah noted that the majority of the informal economy workers were either unorganized or unionized and as a result they lacked union protection and confronted with various challenges.
He said they lacked access to credit, exposure to high level of economic and financial risk, lack of employment and income security, unsafe working conditions and added that these challenges were decent work deficits that required the collaborative work of the social partners to address and overcome.
Mr Asamoah advised the public authority to change attitude towards informal sector workers and become more responsive to their needs, saying; “public authority at various levels must learn to engage and dialogue with workers.
“Opportunity for dialogue among stakeholders is necessary for sustainable resolution of issues.”
He said three informal economy associations were admitted into the TUC as associate members; bringing the number of its associate members to nine, adding; “we have to build on the modest gains made so far and reach out to the remaining large contingent of informal economy workers who are in dire need of union protection.”
Mr Asamoah entreated the executives of NOVMATA to be committed to the cause of their members and be loyal to the Union, adding; “It is with collective effort that the interest of the members can be protected and promoted. Let us remember that it is not about self interest but the good of all and the progress of the Union.”
Madam Bernice Otoo, Chairperson of NOVMATA acknowledged the critical role the TUC plays in fighting for the rights of all manner of workers and hence settled with GAWU which is primarily focused on agricultural and allied workers.
“We are happy that this day is here where we tell the whole world that we as market women and men are also a part of the trades union and even before our relationship with GAWU is made official, the Union has been of tremendous help to us in capacity building activities,” she said.
Madam Otoo assured the leadership of GAWU of the support and commitment of the Association in attaining the goals and aspirations of the Union.
The Association was formed by the traders in 2006 at the Novotel Park in Accra before the traders were moved to the Odawna.
Other members of the executives are Mrs Love Annang, Vice-Chairperson; Miss Christiana Badu, Treasurer; Miss Vida Adjeiwaa, Secretary; Miss Gloria Dede, Organiser; Miss Mary Akom, Advisor and Mr Gedo Musah, Chief Porter.
Togbe Adom Drayi II, Head of Organisation Department of TUC swore them into office. GNA