LET’S STOP THE PETROL POLITICS

SINCE June last year, the crude oil price on the world market has fallen systematically, to a five- year low,of about 50 per cent. It is now being sold at below $56 per barrel, from a high of $115 per barrel.

The drastic fall in price should ordinarily be a blessing in disguise for all oil importing countries, as they now use less foreign exchange to import the commodity.

Ghana falls in this group, and many think petrol price in the country should be reduced, per the automatic adjustment formula used by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to fix prices, according to the prevailing price on the world market.

Indeed, the NPA under intense pressure from the public and the government’s political opponents, has actually reduced petrol price by 10 per cent, which critics continue to say, falls far below expectation. They argue that it should have been reduced by 50 per cent, to reflect the reduction on the world market, with government insisting, there would be no further reduction.

President John Mahama has supported this position, by saying that further reduction of the price would be inimical to the economy.

According to him, the government is indebted to the Bulk Distribution Companies (BDCs) to the tune of about GH¢400 million dollars, and needs money to settle it.

“It is only appropriate to use the excess money to pay the debt, because using taxes will slow down development in other areas,” he cautioned.

But this argument seems to have fallen on deaf ears, and the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and other pressure groups are asking the government to use the automatic adjustment formula, to reduce the price.

“With the current downward trend in crude oil price on the world market, the NDC government has cheated Ghanaians with its meagre 10 per cent reduction, considering that Ghanaians were asked to embrace the upward adjustment of crude oil price, when the world market price shot up,” the critics said.

Ordinary Ghanaians would be happier, to be enjoying the price reduction, because demand for petrol is closely related to all economic activities.

But, we should also not lose sight of the fact that it is our taxes which are used to pay the debt owed the BDCs. And when that happens, it is the economy which suffers.

The Times feels that although there is justification for further reduction, it is also prudent for the government to save from the windfall, to offset the huge debt owed the BDCs.

Whether we accept to pay now from the wind- fall, or postpone payment, only to pay with taxes later, it is all Ghanaians who would be called upon to pay the debt in future.

It is therefore, in the national interest for us all to accept the temporary freeze on further reduction, for a good cause.

For now, let us stop the politics around the fuel price reduction, to enable us to pay the BDCs and avoid slowing down the economy. That may be disastrous for the country!

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