…As PAC Grills Management On AG Report
Dr. Clement Abasenab Apaak, Member of Parliament (MP) for Builsa South Constituency and member of Public Accounts Committee of Parliament, has called on the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) to intensify its investigation to unearth the possible cause of what he described as “substandard Akpeteshie,” a locally-brewed beverage, also known as “Apio,” on the market.
According to him, most of the villages around the country, especially those in the remote areas in the Builsa South District in Northern Ghana, are flooded with diluted local alcohol, also known as “Local Gin,” and causing premature deaths of young men who patronise the consumption of the local liquor.
Dr. Apaak made the call when officials from the Ghana Standards Authority, led by its executive director, Professor Alex Dodoo, appeared before the Public Accounts Committee in parliament yesterday.
The GSA management team was in parliament to answer questions and to also provide clarity on some of the managerial issues and financial discrepancies captured in the 2013/2014 Auditor General’s Report.
While asking a question to the authority on its rules to standard of alcoholic beverages, Dr Apaak said, it has come to his notice that, most of the locally brewed beverage, especially Akpeteshie, has been diluted to the substandard level, and thereby making it unwholesome for human consumption.
“I have come to the conclusion notice that the alcoholic product that goes to my part of the country is substandard. We notice a lot of young men getting withered dying at a very early age.”
“So I would like on this note to urge you to intensify your investigations to ensure that the type of Akpeteshie that gets to my part of the country is wholesome….because we are losing a lot young lives as a result of consumption of what I will describe as substandard Akpeteshie,” Dr. Apaak said.
He noted that, the substandard local gin on the market, in his view, if not curbed would cause more havoc to youthful lives in our society and therefore pushed for tighter and tougher rules from the Ghana Standards Authority to curb it.
In response, Professor Dodoo said, though the GSA does diligent work before certifying and putting its seal on any company producing alcoholic drinks, yet most of the substandard products still found their way onto the market.
He said because of the authority’s penchant to eliminate such practices in the market with its rigid rules, some of the local companies that fail or fall short of meeting the standard for certification, resort to such unwholesome production and spreading same into the maker.
The GSA, he added, nevertheless, is investigating every complaint that comes to its notice and that the concerns raised by the Builsa South lawmaker, would be duly investigated and the perpetrators when found will be dealt with.
In answering a similar question by Hon. Mathias Ntow, MP for Aowin, as to whether the Standards Authority was aware of news circulation in social media that there is plastic rice on the Ghanaian market, Prof. Dodoo said, the certification of food items is in the domain of the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA), but added that the GSA is working in collaboration with FDA and would at any time draw attention to its sister authority when such reports come to their office.
He also cautioned the general public not to easily be consumed by things put out in the social media, noting that, most of the products in circulation on social media are just to create fear and panic, and the he was aware the security agencies are also keeping close eyes on such miscreants.
The MPs welcomed the authority’s willingness to address alcohol-related harm, especially through the FDA’s “responsibility deal,” under which drinks and food firms pledge to tackle alcohol misuse and obesity in return for avoiding any new regulation.
Prof. Dodoo further told the Public Accounts Committee that there was the need to invoke the debate on the legalization of production of marijuana in the country, as its medicinal value is becoming an economic product.
He was answering a question from Hon. James Klutse Avedzi, Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, with regard to his comments in the media that, Ghana needs to legalize the production of marijuana, locally known as “wee.”
He told the committee that, in other jurisdictions, after realising the combinational use of marijuana in most products, especially hair creams for women, they legalized its production, but to some quantity and that parliament would not be faulted if law was passed to allow it for such purpose.
Answering questions from the committee on the work of the authority, following managerial lapses captured in the audit report, Prof. Dodoo said the GSA, at the moment, lacks staff to carry out most of its duties.
In his view, the authority would need not fewer than 2,000 staff workers to be able to have a complete work, judging from its multiple nature of work in ensuring good standard of products in the country.
Source: therepublicnewsonline.com/Felix Engsalige Nyaaba