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Opinions of Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Columnist: Atta-Krufi, Hayford

Tema Oil Refinery Debt, who is lying?

12th June 2009

The NDC has been in office for six months. The cost of food and basic things continue to rise. Fuel prices have gone up by 37% over the period. But wages remain the same.

To get Ghanaians to swallow the sharp fuel price increases, they have decided to put the blame on the NPP and on some debt the NPP is supposed to have left behind. But unfortunately, the truth is very difficult to hide. Take a look at the following:

What Hon Moses Asaga said in January 2009: At 9.34 pm on Monday, the 19th January 2009, Hon Moses Asaga, a member of the NDC Economic Team, said on Matters Arising on TV Africa that the TOR debt at the close of December 2008 had reached GH?1 billion (or 10 trillion old cedis).

President Atta-Mills:

Then, on the 14th April 2009, President Atta-Mills, during his encounter with journalists at the Castle, stated that the TOR debt at the close of December 2009 was GH?1.14 billion (or 11.4 trillion old cedis).

Mr Ametor Kwami, Features Editor of the Palaver:

Then, on Tuesday, the 9th June 2009, on Peace FM’s Kookorokoo programme, Mr Ametor Kwami, the features editor of the Palaver newspaper, quoted from a letter he claimed was from TOR that the TOR debt at the close 2008 was GH?473 million (or 4.73 trillion old cedis).

Vice President John Mahama:

Then, around 10.37 pm on Thursday the 11th June 2009, the Vice President John Mahama stated on Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana that the TOR debt at the close of December 2008 was GH?930 million (or 9.3 trillion old cedis).

Minister for Energy, Dr Oteng Adjei:

The following day, the 12th June 2009, the Minister for Energy, Dr Oteng Adjei said in Parliament that the TOR debt at the close of December 2008 was GH?106 million (or 1.06 trillion old cedis).

According to him, the under-recoveries at TOR, at VRA, at Bulk Trading Company, at Bost and others, all put together was GH?347 million at the close of December 2008.

So, who is telling the truth and who is lying?

The NDC may be having difficulty running the economy, but they probably realise now that lying about TOR debt is even more difficult.

TOR DEBT UNDER THE NPP

12th June 2009

NDC government officials, including the President, claim that the debt of Tema Oil Refinery as they inherited it at the beginning of 2009 was GH¢1,140 million. They further claim that the revenue from the TOR Debt recovery levy has not been used to service TOR debt. Both claims are completely false.

2. The NPP for some months now has challenged officials of TOR to tell Ghanaians about TOR debt at the close of 2008. We are still waiting for the response.

3. Fortunately, we do have some documented facts. On the 24th September 2008, TOR wrote a letter signed by their Deputy MD, Dr Ali Abugri, with the title, “TOR DEBT EXPLAINED”, referenced Treasury/JKA/eal/R316/2008 to the Ministry of Finance.

4. In paragraph 4 of that letter, it was stated very clearly that the debt of TOR at the beginning of September 2008 stood at GH¢167.53 million.

5. Now, we may recall that from late July 2008 when crude oil price started falling sharply, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) did not reduce fuel prices. The reason given was that TOR incurred losses when crude oil price increased and hit $147 per barrel, so there was the need to defray those losses before reducing fuel prices. The GH¢167.53 million in that TOR letter (dated 24th September 2008) was the losses the NPA was talking about.

6. Indeed, by the 1st of November 2008, those losses had been cleared, so the NPA started reducing prices. The question is, at what time did TOR debt reach GH¢1,140 million? The answer is never! It is all false. That is why officials of TOR are now unable to comment on the TOR debt. They are afraid of exposing government, including the President.

7. The problem with this distasteful politicisation of public debt is that it makes our economy look bad (and wrongly so) in the eyes of the outside world. It reduces confidence in our local currency and makes the cedi fall sharply, leading to sharp price increases on the market. In the end, it is the ordinary people in Ghana that suffer.

For further information, please contact NPP Communications Directorate, 0244 838 735 or 0249 679 008

hayford atta-krufi