For years, we Ghanaians were bombarded with the GOSPEL according to our government. The book of Ghana Government Chapter 1 Verse 1 “THE GOVERNMENT IS SUBSIDIZING YOUR PETROL PRICES.” Hallelujah!! Drivers among us shook their heads in bewilderment at the exorbitant prices they faced at Gas Stations when they fueled vehicles. Kerosene buyers muttered the name of their deity, savior or prophet under their breadth as they scraped to pay for the precious fuel that keep limited light from their lamps burning. Everybody else wept and gnashed the teeth as he/she paid impossible transportation fares attributable to high fuel cost by Ghanaian Transport Operators. And of course there is the obsequious tickle down effect on all goods sold in Ghana. When Petrol price rise, every price in Ghana rise too.
Like devout Catholics who believe in the TRINITY even though they cannot understand how three (3) persons make one (1) God, we Ghanaians continue to believe that our GOVERNMENT MAKES GAS PRICES CHEAP for us even when the NPP government has officially dropped the farce AND INFORMED US THAT PETROL IS NO LONGER SUBSIDIZED. Thus we endure in silence as Petrol prices (well above our meager incomes and means) crush our very souls.
| Truth may be stretched, but cannot be broken, and always gets above falsehood, as does oil above water” |
Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra; a Spanish writer.
Being a PAPA SAMO, with twenty years of Sojourn in the Whiteman's World under my belt, I am not a stake holder of any of the current political parties in Ghana. My interest in the question is purely Socio-cultural and academic. I religiously visit the Ghanaian Online Media for information about Ghana and have encountered pronouncements by some of our leaders on the issue that are simply propaganda and posturing.
RECAP - PETROL POLITICS TIME LINE
December 10th Prof. Mills accuses the government of not doing anything to reduce Local Petrol Prices as world Crude Oil Prices continue to fall.
December 11th Ex President Rawlings releases a statement questioning why the government was not reducing Petrol prices. He says the NPP government is playing politics with Petrol prices.
December 11th evening: The National Petroleum Authority, (NPA), cuts Petrol prices by 17.7 percent. The CEO calls the price cut a Christmas present for Ghanaians.
December 13th Kwabena Donkor, a spokesman for the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) accuses the government of reducing Petrol prices just to make Ghanaians vote for NPP on December 28th.
December 14th Nana Akufo Addo says the NPP government has nothing to do with the price NA WAA OO!!!reduction. That the independent National Petroleum Authority (NPA) regulates Petrol prices in Ghana.
President Kuffour meanwhile remains deafeningly silent. Why Mr. President why? Don't you care?
Rawlings and Company complained that Petrol prices are too high; said government is playing politics with prices and should cut them, government cut prices then they complained that government cut Petrol prices to gain political advantage. What do they want: Price Cut or No Price Cut? And since Crude Oil prices have started going back up, will the NDC petition the government to increase Petrol prices?
Nana Akufo Addo says the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) is an independent body. Well, Ghana has three branches of government, Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. Where does the NPA fall? Is it not under the executive branch? Does the president not give directives to all organs of the executive branch? Since president Kuffour won't touch the issue, let's ask Mr. Rawlings. He will know. After all he was in power for twenty years.
Mr. Attafuah the CEO of the National Petroleum Authority says the recent 17% cut is a Christmas present for Ghanaians. Since when did Mr. Attafuah and the NPA care enough about Ghanaians to dole out presents? What about the past seven Christmases that the NPP has been in power?
CUTTING THROUGH THE BULL
Fellow Ghanaians: It is time to cut through the bull. Please don't buy this crap about Petrol Politics. On December 28th vote your choice on other issues. Both parties are playing politics with Petrol Prices, your money and intelligence. The NPP is playing FATHER CHRISTMAS. The NDC is pretending to be on your side but do they really care? HELL NO! THEY ARE OUT TO SCORE POLITICAL POINTS.
Look back in history. When in the nearly 20 Year Rawlings' Rule was Petrol prices cut, following World Crude Oil Price drop? NONE, ZIP, ZERO. Is Crude Oil price fluctuation a phenomenon of just 2008? NO!! Take a Look at the OPEC Website linked to Mr. Rawlings' December 11th STATEMENT. http://www.opec.org/home/basket.aspx Instead of looking at the daily or weekly data, look at the yearly data. In 1998, World Crude Oil Prices dropped from 1997 level. Mr. Rawlings was in power both years. Did he drop Petrol prices from one year to another? NOPE!! Please tell him to keep quiet on this issue. He is no MESSIAH WHEN IT COMES TO PETROL PRICE POLITICS IN GHANA.
NEW THINKING NEEDED ON PETROL PRICES IN GHANA
OIL PRODUCTS are the most taxed commodities in countries around the world except where subsidies are in place. While some countries like the US and member countries of the E.C. tell their citizens up front about the monetary or percentage amount of taxes on Petrol Products, Ghana does not. In the US, the federal government taxes Petrol about 18 cents per gallon. The various states add their own taxes. In North Carolina where I live, the State add 29.9 cents in addition to the federal tax. The average price of a gallon of Petrol in my area is currently $1.60 at the pump. When I buy a gallon of Petrol at the Gas Station, I know that I pay 47.9 cents in Petrol Taxes to the State and Federal government.
In Britain (where Petrol prices are generally higher than Ghana's) the government Petrol Tax is about 66% of Pump Price. WHAT IS THE GHANA GOVERNMENT TAX ON PETROL? I PERSONALLY THINK GHANA IS OVER TAXING PETROL. We need openness. We need a new thinking on Petrol Policy not the NPA's so called Christmas Present.
Instead of fixing Prices, the NPA should be FIXING Petrol Taxes in either monetary amount or in percentages as other countries do AND PROVIDE GHANAIANS WITH THE FIGURES.
We Ghanaians are not STUPID. We may have been born in the night but we were not born last night.
Provide us with the figures and we will do THE MATHEMATICS. We need the NPA to tell us the:
Current Crude price per gallon; the current Refine Oil Price per gallon; the applicable government Tax.
Example: December 17th , World Crude Oil Price = 40.95 per barrel (OPEC Website )
There are 42 US gallons in 1 barrel, so Price divided by quantity ($40.95 / 42) = $ 0.975
TRANSLATION: a gallon of Crude is LESS THAN 1 DOLLAR (97 Cents)
Now: A gallon of Petrol sells around $3 in Ghana. Where did the $2 come from - Refinery cost and Taxes?
The NPA should tell us What the Refinery Cost is and how much we pay in Taxes.
According to the experts IT COST THE SAME TO REFINE OIL ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD. Both the US and Ghana have Oil Refineries. REFINERY COST SHOULD BE ALMOST THE SAME THEN.
Working in the US, I earn more money monthly (3 to 5 times) than a person of my profession working in Ghana but I pay $1.60 for a gallon of Gas and he/she pays $3.00 for a gallon of Gas. Why? Isn't the cost of LIVING SUPPOSED TO BE CHEAPER IN GHANA THAN IN THE US?
Again fellow Ghanaians: This is not an NPP or NDC Issue. This skewed up way of Reasoning and Fixing Prices in Ghana so that Goods Cost more in Ghana than in the Advance World does not only lie with Petrol Prices. It is also true with Vehicle Importation Duties Enacted by PNDC Law 330. Time and space will not allow me to go into that. WE NEED TO RE-THINK THESE POLICIES.
THE NPP, NDC, PNDC etc. all have one agenda. SCORE POLITICAL POINTS AND SCREW YOU. VOTE BECAUSE WE NEED A GOVERNMENT but don't buy the Petrol Politics from anyone.
By L. Kojo Yeboah Raleigh NC USA