The terms of trade and structure of opportunity for traders have been worsening for decades. Continuing polarization between high and low capital traders has deepened hardship at the lower end without allowing significant expansion at the higher end.
Aggressively hostile actions towards traders have largely ceased under SAP, but capital shortage and falling demand seem to be equally effective in limiting their trading. Recovery in trading volume and income has been surprisingly slight, given the extreme political, social, and climatic crisis conditions immediately preceding SAP in 1982-83. Traders benefit from general infrastructural improvements, but suffer more from policies restricting demand and money supply.
PAMSCAD is intended as a palliative to many of the hardships admittedly created by SAP in the short term. Its planned interventions, though modest, aim to provide basic needs for the highly vulnerable groups identified. The ILO/JASPA study also recommends concrete measures to address unmet needs of the redeployed and underemployed youths. None of these programs consider traders as among their constituency, although they expect the marketplace system to contribute substantially to meeting the needs of others.
Official reluctance or refusal to help traders deal with the new demands made upon them may well reflect continuing hostility to them and misunderstanding of their function in the Ghanaian economy. After all, trade liberalization arose as much from external pressure as from internal conviction (of government, traders, or consumers). The local belief that traders contribute nothing to the broader economy--and the longer- term mistrust of market women--undermine SAP policies of trade liberalization and privatization. Increasing the structure of opportunity for traders or their power relative to other social groups looks counterproductive.
Unfortunately such exclusion of market traders from economic planning and resources threatens the whole process of economic growth, inside or outside of SAP. Their own standard of living is inseparable from levels of consumption and production in other sectors, but reverse linkages are equally strong. Impoverishment of the marketplace system makes it less effective as a distributive network and an employment generator for nourishing the productive and human resources of the nation.
Clark Gracia 1988 Traders Versus the State. Boulder: Westview Press. forthcoming Food Traders and Food Security. The Political Econom ofAfrican Famine: The Class and Gender Basis of Hunger