Ghanaians were faced with yet another political surprise last Tuesday, one of many enacted by the political establishment in recent times.
In the run-up to a crucial election, the last thing an incumbent government cornered by motley economic and governance challenges would do is allow another hike in the prices of petroleum prices. When last Tuesday closed with the announcement of the umpteenth price hike in the prices of petroleum products, many wondered whether the government was on a Hari-Kari mission. Of course it was.
The detachment of government from the pricing of the product, notwithstanding, when its interest is under threat as in the subject under review especially in an election year, it could alter this arrangement to save its head by a diktat.
Be it as it may, a startled National Petroleum Agency (NPA), a state body and the regulator of the industry, perhaps under pressure from the President, denied there was any price hike. The agency bore the brunt of the public grumbling – its explanations failing to calm edgy consumers and setting it on a collision course with the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC), representatives of millions of Ghanaians.
We take note of the Chambers’ concerns that the NPA slept on its assignment of monitoring and in the event, not taking note of the occurrence which has led to rumblings and commentaries.
The confusion was palpable. Many saw the ensuing befuddlement as one of the features of the government’s strings of indecision.
The NPA eventually admitted that there was a hike albeit marginally, it was quick to add. We wonder whether the confusion could not have been avoided. As for the ensuing embarrassment suffered by the agency, it is not good for its corporate image. The bitter taste left on the palates of Ghanaian consumers of petroleum products would linger for long; its repercussions translated in loss of confidence in the NPA by the public.
Extending the political terrain propaganda to such agencies as the NPA, would not help us. What happened on Tuesday was an example of the fallouts of politicizing such agencies.
For us, it was an attempt at managing a situation but the approach was rather insulting and crude. Consumers who drove into the pump stations felt the hike and could not brook the NPA intervention in the way it did. For how long was the NPA going to hold out on the tangent of ‘no price hike?’ Not long of course. Even as the COPEC laughs last, we are left with another painful exercise of counting the effects of yet again another shrunk real income: our individual and organizations’ budgets thrown into disarray.
The penchant to turn to petroleum taxes to shore up an economy which is on a downward spiral is not the best but the government is intent on continuing on that path. How sad.
The affairs of a country when they are undertaken in the manner we are witnessing today can only lead to loss of faith in the government.
The feeling of having dust thrown into the eyes of the people by government can lead to withdrawn support for policies even when these are genuine and underpinned by sincerity.
Little wonder, the oft-heard ‘all politicians share similar characteristics’ resonates in the quarters of some frustrated Ghanaians.
The above cannot be true though.
The only reason some politicians become statesmen in their countries is because their visions lead to genuine transformations which future generations tap from positively.
Developed countries in the other hemisphere have reached their current statuses because of the selfless and exemplary leadership exhibited by their politicians. Allowing such hikes close to an election, no matter how marginal, suggests the dangerous predicament in which government finds itself. A Hari-Kari mission, of course!