West African Trade: A Study of Competition, Oligopoly and Monopoly in a Changing Economy

By P. T. Bauer | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 24 1
THE ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT OF THE PRICE POLICIES OF THE MARKETING BOARDS

It was suggested at the end of the preceding chapter that the boards and their policies are best seen as instruments for a large measure of socialization of peasant agriculture in West Africa. This aspect of their operations does not seem to have been explicitly recognized, and it has certainly not been advanced in support of their policies. But as already stated it would be inappropriate to examine this issue here. On the other hand, it is legitimate, and indeed necessary, to examine the arguments generally advanced in support of the policies of the boards, whether by their own spokesmen or by influential supporters of these statutory monopolies.2

The retention over a number of years of a large part of the sales proceeds from producers and the accumulation of surpluses on the scale indicated in the preceding chapters in clear contrast to specific formal official undertakings would require detailed and logical explanation and justification. Although there are certain discernible recurrent themes in the pronouncements of their spokesmen, the statements and notices issued on behalf of the boards and the memoranda circulated by their chairmen, the boards do not Seem to have presented a systematic or coherent exposition of the reasons underlying their austere price policies.

____________________
1
A dilemma arose in the presentation of this chapter. A discussion in which the arguments advanced in support of the price policies of the boards are examined one by one may give the impression of being coloured by hostile bias. On the other hand, a discussion largely in general terms may be thought to be irrelevant to the boards' policies. The former of these two alternatives has been accepted, and the individual arguments are examined seriatim and in specific terms, even though this may result in an unintentional appearance of hostility. Unfortunately and unavoidably the discussion appears the more controversial the more specific it is, and the stranger and more unorthodox are the arguments which it has to meet. Only those arguments are considered the sources of which can easily be verified. Examination of these arguments and of their implications is the sole topic of this chapter. The reader not interested in this subject will lose little by passing on to Chapter 25.
2
These, however, often reflect widely held views and characteristic trends of opinion which must be remembered in fairness to those proposing them (cf. § 13 below).

-319-

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