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Opinions of Saturday, 8 February 2014

Columnist: Adofo, Rockson

Do you Support the Persistent Upward Adjustment .....

....in Prices of Petroleum Products in Ghana?

I have always had my reservations about the periodic but constant increment in petroleum products in Ghana. Local prices of petrol, kerosene and diesel oil are always on the increase each time there is the slightest increase in the world prices of crude oil. ? The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has decided to readjust petroleum prices in Ghana to reflect the on-going world prices of crude oil. However, when the price of crude oil falls, the benefit does not seep through to the final ordinary consumers. Nonetheless, the consumers are permanently on the harshest receiving end when the prices are reviewed upwards. ? Adjusting prices in line with world prices of crude oil at regular but short intervals is not a good economic policy. The negative ripple effect on the economy at large, where the already poor people are rendered poorer, weakens their already precarious purchasing power. This situation is very devastating. ? When the price of fuel goes up, the public and the private commercial transport owners readjust transport fares correspondingly on almost the same day without the knowledge of their customers (passengers). All too often, passengers engage in brawl, insults and all sorts of antagonistic exchanges with the drivers and their mates all due to the unannounced sudden increases in transport fares. ? Every trader in the country ups the prices of their wares accordingly. How too often would the government by such a poor economic policy joyously or callously inflict untold hardships on the ordinary Ghanaians? ? Yes, prices of petroleum products must be adjusted but not as rampantly as the NPA are doing. The government can make a projection for the whole year, and then increase the price for the entire year. With this, there would not be any incessant or short interval periodic increases with the concomitant knock down effect on Ghanaians and hence, on the economy. ? At times, the fuel price increase by a small margin should not warrant increases in transportation (lorry) fare yet, the commercial drivers do increase the fares. As soon as fares are increased, regardless of the margin, the prices of everything sold in Ghana go up by margins far higher than the increase in transportation. This is the more reason why the government must be discerning enough to come out with a better means of increasing fuel prices. It should be by a certain percentage and for once a year or so. ? The oil find in Ghana has become a curse rather than a blessing to the country and the citizens. A few people through thievery, mismanagement and cronyism are living off the fat of the oil while almost all other Ghanaians are suffering abject poverty. Could we not use some of our local oil find to cushion the economy against needless increases in prices of petroleum products because the world crude oil price has gone up? ? If we continue to do same as, or worse than, when Ghana had not discovered her own oil fields, then there is something wrong somewhere. Use some of our locally produced crude oil to shore up our economy to relieve the citizens of the hardships emanating from constant price hikes that they go through. ? On the other hand, does the government through the supposedly independent NPA, see increases in fuel prices as the easiest way of raising urgently needed revenue for the execution of other essential developments? ? When will the Managers of our economy and country wise up? A country is not managed by propagandised slogans of "Ede bii keke" but by conscientious application of socio-politico-economic knowhow, dedication to duty, dynamism, honest and selfless desire to be of service to your people and country. ? Rockson Adofo