Dr. Kofi Asamoah
Organized Labour says it has noted with shock and total disbelief, the astronomical increases in the ex-pump prices of petroleum products announced by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA).
The ex-pump prices of Premium and LPG have been increased by 23.08 percent and 15.68 percent respectively.
These increases have far-reaching effects on prices of a wide range of goods and services and they are coming at a time when Ghanaians are faced with very difficult economic conditions, it said.
In a press statement jointly signed by Kofi Asamoah, Secretary General of TUC, ICU’s Morgan Ayawine, GNAT’s B.K. Osei, CLOSSAG’s J. N. O Ankrah and GMA’s Kwabena Opoku Adusei, it emphasized: ‘These astronomical price hikes have become the hallmark of government and governance. Since January 2013, the ex-pump price of premium has been increased by 96.72 percent. From January 1 to July 14, 2014, the ex-pump price of premium has been increased by 44.21 percent and we are only halfway into the year.’
It continued: ‘We do not want to believe that government views governance only as passing on increasing prices, taxes and charges to the Ghanaian people without any way of gauging the impact of such increases on our wellbeing. If that were the purpose of governance, then it would not be worth the expenditure incurred for its purposes. The prices of petroleum products are reaching unaffordable levels for many Ghanaians. This is the year when government could not increase salaries yet it has the confidence to pile these stellar increases on Ghanaians.’
It called for a review of the current pricing formula for fuel given the rapid fall in the value of the cedi.
‘The exchange rate has now become a key driver of petroleum products price increases. It is simply unfair for Ghanaians to be compelled to pay higher for fuel whenever government, by its policies, mismanages the exchange rate. With the rapid depreciation of the Cedi, the continued indexation of fuel prices to the dollar/cedi exchange rate is no longer tenable. The fuel pricing formula has outlived its usefulness.’
The TUC, however, maintained that given the prevailing economic challenges in the country and the high cost of living, a subsidy regime on petroleum products was necessary.
It said there was a limit to what workers and their families could tolerate.
‘The decision by the NPA and government to increase the ex-pump prices of petroleum products at this time is to say the least, insensitive. Clearly, our government has lost touch with or failed to appreciate the economic and social difficulties and hardships of many of our compatriots. By its actions, government is further distancing itself from the concerns of the people. The announced increases would only aggravate the hardship and misery many Ghanaian families are going through.’
It therefore pledged that in the coming days, it will, in collaboration with other stakeholders, use all legitimate means to express its disapproval of not only the current pricing regime for fuel and other utilities, but equally and importantly on the prevailing economic and social conditions.
By Samuel Boadi
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