‘High petrol prices killing Ghanaians’

General News of Thursday, 22 January 2015

Source: Daily Guide

Dr Steve Manteaw ISODEC

The Civil Society Platform on Oil & Gas has attributed the high price of petrol in the country to government’s poor management of the economy which has led to an erosion of the macro-economic gains of the previous government with its attendant decline in the value of the cedi.

The group, which was reacting to the recent marginal and disproportional reduction in the prices of petroleum products, observed that the situation has been further compounded by excessive taxes placed on the various products, including the recent 17.5 percent advolorem tax imposed by the government on the price build-up.

“To maintain petroleum prices at the current high levels therefore amounts to punishing Ghanaians for the macro-economic mismanagement of the Mahama administration.

“We reject the suggestion to further introduce a price mitigation levy into the price build-up, and by that further suspend the benefit in price reduction which should rightly go to the consumer.”

In a recent statement, the group said its rejection of the proposed price mitigation levy was not only because of the confusion created by government’s deregulation policy, but its failure to keep faith with statutory transfer obligations with respect to the GETFund, NHIS Fund, Road Fund, and royalty disbursements to mining host communities, among others.

“We simply cannot trust that the so-called price mitigation fund will be available when needed.

It also expressed disappointment with the failure of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to fulfil its fiduciary obligations to consumers by protecting them from the exploitative tendencies of utility companies.

“To the extent that about 49 percent of the country’s energy is from gas and crude oil sources, we expect electricity tariffs to also come down, the Civil Society Platform on Oil and Gas added.

“Of course, water distribution also depends substantially on diesel, which price has also seen substantial decline in recent months, and should also see some downward review. It is unfortunate that our regulatory agencies have allowed their actions to be politically determined and to largely favour the utility companies.”

Calling for an end to what it termed as the needless politicization of Ghana’s regulatory institutions, it stressed: “We call on all vertical accountability institutions, pressure groups, NGOs, faith-based organizations, Organized Labour, and individual Ghanaians to rise against this blatant abuse of public trust and to continue pushing government to respect its side of whatever bargain it enters with the citizens.”

It noted that those pushing for the policy have the responsibility to provide Ghanaians with evidence to buttress their position.

“A serious and transparent process of investigating the evidence and permitting the debate on trade-offs then becomes crucial.”