Feature Article of Monday, 18 February 2013
Columnist: Kofi Thompson
It is a real pity that President Mahama was not given the opportunity to address the nation directly in an evening speech to explain to the people of Ghana why it was detrimental to the long-term future of Ghana, for the government to continue spending hard-to-find money needed to carry out development projects around the country, to support a fuel price regime ultimately preventing Ghana from evolving into a modern energy-efficient economy truly competitive globally.
It is always possible for Ghanaians to cope with an increase in the price of fuel - if we adopt a creative approach in our response.
For example, if vehicle owners in Ghana ensure that their engines are always well-maintained, ensure correct tyre pressure always and stop making unnecessary trips with those vehicles, they need not be worse off than they previously were.
It is a fact that it was in the long-term interest of the nation to bring the era when governments of Ghana used money needed to develop the country to rather support fuel prices, to an end.
That was the responsible thing to do - as it was a situation preventing Ghana from becoming an energy-efficient economy: a prerequisite to becoming competitive globally.
Incidentally, were Ghanaians to adopt the same waste-not-want-not attitude in their use of electricity and water, most consumers will find that they are better equipped to cope with paying higher tariffs.
Higher tariffs for water and electricity will provide the utility companies with revenues sufficient to enable them invest in new and modern plant and equipment.
A new tariff regime will also enable the utility companies in Ghana to pay their employees salaries that motivate them to be more productive.
It will also enable them to pay dividends to their main shareholder the government of Ghana - and eventually to individual Ghanaians when some of their shares are floated on the Ghana Stock Exchange to raise additional capital that is interest-free for them.
Instead of playing politics with it, one hopes that Ghanaian politicians (from across the spectrum) will be responsible enough to point it out to Ghanaians that the most appropriate response to any price increase for those who use fuel, electricity and water, is to adopt a waste-not-want-not philosophy in their usage.
That is responsible leadership - which is what Ghana desperately needs at a time like this. A word to the wise...