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Politics of Wednesday, 8 June 2005

Source: GNA

Consensus to drive National Petroleum Bill through

Accra, June 8, GNA - The Majority and Minority parties in Parliament on Wednesday gave a strong indication that the National Petroleum Bill would sail through the various legislative steps without a hitch. The Bill that was supposed to have gone through the second reading on Wednesday had to be postponed to enable members to appreciate it better.

Mr Felix Owusu Agyepong, The Majority Leader and the Minority Leader, Mr Alban Bagbin exchanged pleasantries after announcing the postponement, offering each other goodwill gestures. Both expressed the hope that the Bill would be passed on Friday and that it would be a consensual activity.

The Bill seeks the approval of the House for the establishment of the National Petroleum Authority, which would oversee and monitor activities in the petroleum downstream sector. It would also set the ceiling on the price of petroleum. The Bill also seeks the approval of the Parliament for the establishment of a Unified Petroleum Price Fund (UPPF). The UPPF would pursue the objective of compensating Oil Marketing Companies for the differences in cost of transporting petroleum products with a view to creating an enabling environment for equal pricing of products in the country.

The Bill comes at a time when the price of petroleum products was at its most uncertain peak. It had drawn the anger and frustration of the Minority parties culminating in "Wahala" protest marches throughout the country. According to the a source at the Committee of Energy and Mines, Government was keen on pushing the Bill because it was a product of its determination to fully deregulate the Petroleum Sector as promised by

President John Agyekum Kufuor in the 2005 State of the Nation Address and the Budget Statement of Government for the 2005 Fiscal Year. By deregulation, government would no longer have the singular responsibility to finance the procurement of petroleum requirement of the country.