THE OPPOSITION New Patriotic Party (NPP) has asked government to “immediately reverse or review the imposition of a 27 percent hike on petroleum products which has seen the price of petrol increase from GH¢12 to over GH¢15 a gallon.”
The NPP wants government to reduce the killer tariffs now.
Government recently announced a 27% increase in the prices of fuel products, provoking public anger.
The NPP explained that “the effect of the petrol price increase has been passed on without any cushion to the Ghanaian consumer.
“By the operation of the automatic petrol adjustment formula, petrol should have been selling at about GH¢9 per gallon, considering the sharp fall in crude oil prices on the international market which has resulted to a fall in petrol prices globally except Ghana.”
Apart from being unjustified, the NPP insists the increase “shows a callous, wicked, insensitive and lazy government which quickly, time and again, resorts to using state power to financially squeeze the poor Ghanaian consumer.”
In a statement issued and signed by its Communications Director, Nana Akomea, the NPP said, “Apart from the poor Ghanaian having to eke out to pay directly the 60%, 67% and 27% increases, the poor taxpayer will still be confronted to eke out further to pay increases in trotro fares, bus fares, school fees, sachet water, kenkey, rent and for food, etc.”
That aside, the party noted, “Businesses are going to suffer from increases in operating costs, losses in profit and further limiting their ability to expand and create jobs for the teeming unemployed youth.”
This, Nana Akomea said, was because there are two main determinants of petrol prices – the cedi exchange rate and the price of crude oil.
Considering the fact that the cedi exchange rate has been relatively stable – GH¢3.85 to the dollar – in the last few months coupled with the falling of crude oil prices from $110 in mid 2014 to $37 today, the opposition party believes that “by the operation of the automatic petrol price adjustment formula, petrol should be selling at about GH¢9.00 a gallon.”
The statement observed, “Indeed the trend all over the world (including the rich countries) has been drastic falls in petrol prices. It is therefore totally baffling that in Ghana, the NDC government has not seen it fit to reduce the price of petroleum products to bring much needed relief to the Ghanaian consumer, but has actually increased the price of petrol by a whopping 27%, from GH¢12.00 a gallon to nearly GHc16.00 a gallon.”
In effect, the NPP said, “The poor consumer does not get the well-deserved relief in petrol price, but is actually punished by the government of the NDC by imposition of higher prices for petrol.”
Even though over the last month or so, the NDC government has imposed at once, a 60% increase in tariffs for electricity, a 67% rise in water tariffs and a 27% rise in petrol price on the long suffering Ghanaian, the NPP noted with concern “all these unbearable increases have come on the back of only a 10% provision for increment in workers’ wages and salaries.”
Interestingly, the NDC government has removed all subsidies on petrol prices by its operation of the automatic petrol pricing formula.
For the NPP, “The preponderance of these taxes and levies at this time, in the face of the steep increases in water and electricity tariffs, portray a very uncaring and wicked government, whose main policy is to impose higher and new taxes on the long suffering Ghanaian, even in the face of poor growth in the economy.”
The party has advised government to as a matter of urgency, revisit this issue and review the taxes urgently to relieve the poor Ghanaian, because “the suffering of the people is too much!”
Ironically, the government had announced that the prices of petroleum products would be automatically adjusted following the introduction of the automatic price adjustment formula, it has chosen to increase the price of petrol on the domestic market without any reason.
The Ministry of Finance only received approval by parliament of 5 percent and 2.9 percent increases in the prices of petrol and diesel respectively, which took effect from Sunday, January 3, 2016.
Fuel prices at the pumps had gone up by between 22 percent and 27 percent following the passage of the Energy Sector Levy (ESL) by Parliament in December 2015.
The price of LPG also went up by about 18 percent.
This information was captured in the report by the Committee on the Energy Sector Levies Bill 2015.
By Charles Takyi-Boadu & Melvin Tarlue