General News of Monday, 16 March 2015
Source: The Finder
The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) has appealed to government to, as a matter of urgency, direct the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to reduce prices of petroleum products drastically to avert redundancies that are directly caused by the power crisis.
Secretary General of ICU, Mr. Solomon Kotei, in an interview with The Finder, described as alarming the rate at which redundancies that are directly caused by the rolling power cuts are being carried out.
From January to date, 560 workers belonging to ICU have been laid off. The breakdown includes 238 by Cocoa Cola Company Limited, 180 by Mantrac Ghana, 58 by Cadbury Ghana Limited and 26 by Novotel Hotel. Mr Kotei said his outfit is inundated with redundancy letters from manufacturing companies.
“Most of the manufacturing companies and hospitality industries, in fact the overheads are becoming astronomical.
“The indications that we are getting almost every day is becoming disturbing,” he said.
Mr Kotei was of the view that reducing fuel prices to reflect world market price of crude oil would demonstrate government’s commitment to at least avert redundancies that are caused directly by the ongoing power crisis.
“Currently, if the employer buys fuel at reasonable price that reflects the price of crude oil on the world market and makes other sacrifices, it would save jobs,” he said.
He explained that the drop in crude oil prices from $113 to $45 warrants a drastic reduction.
Experts say the ex-refinery price is 57% of ex-pump price, implying that the over 13 different taxes and levies constitute 43% of the price of petroleum products.
Mr. Kotei said the refusal by the government to give any meaningful reason for maintaining the price is a serious absurdity.
He noted that as a result of the Automatic Adjustment Formula agreed for utilities, government constantly increased fuel prices when the world market price of crude oil was going up.
“When you want to make profit out of your own citizens it is madness,” he said.
He asked, “Is government using the windfall from the high prices of petroleum products to service the country’s mounting debts?”
The ICU Secretary General expressed worry about government’s total silence on the matter and its unwillingness to subject the issue to debate, saying such attitudes give way to ordinary Ghanaians to offer their own interpretations.
He warned that the unemployment situation in the country could worsen if drastic measures are not taken to address the power crisis.
The adjustment of the Energy Fund Levy on Petroleum Products from Gp0.05 to Gp1.0, part of which would be used to establish the Renewable Energy Fund, is expected to result in increases in the prices of petroleum products.
Also, subsidies on petroleum products, totaling Ghc50 million, are expected to be scrapped as part of the bailout plan.