Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Fifi Kwetey says government will continue to set petroleum prices despite suggestions from analysts that consumers should bear the cost of price changes from the market forces.
Economic analysts like Dr Nii Moi Thompson have suggested that government stay away from setting petroleum prices for consumers and create a new and pragmatic petroleum pricing regime which will allow fuel stations to set their own prices possibly within a band and supplemented by laws against abuse.
Despite admitting that government should by now shed that responsibility of setting prices, Fifi Kwetey says Ghanaians are not ready yet to take that course.
“Ideally that really must be the situation, but are the people of Ghana ready for this? Its not an easy thing. You go across the world, they will tell you even though everything is supposed to be paid for by the people, there are certain things that are considered to be essential. For example, if you have a situation where water is being priced beyond the range of ordinary people, if you are a leader you are likely to be in all kinds of crisis. Look at whats happening in Tunisia, on the back of food prices for example. The same thing is happening in India, there are all sorts of riots. So its not as simple as Nii Moi would want us to believe.
“If we can take the broad section of our people with us, so we all come to an agreement that when it comes to petroleum, lets do exactly what it is with the telecom services, where you don’t expect government to subsidise your calls or your text messages, then we certainly will make a lot of progress. But until we reach that point its going to be difficult.”
The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) early this month adjusted petroleum prices upwards with effect from Tuesday January 4, 2011, citing the rise of crude oil prices on the world market.