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04.02.2009 Business & Finance

Deafening silence on fuel price drop

By Daniel Nonor - Ghanaian Chronicle

The euphoria which hither-to characterized petroleum price reviews by the pricing authority –the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) seem to be dying out. The haste with which the authority makes its review available to the press and the headlines they make the day after, has gradually toned down.

The National Petroleum Authority last weekend conducted its bi-monthly review of petroleum prices, the second since the beginning of this year but these two “significant” exercises have passed out in the quiet.

One would have thought that after making petroleum pricing a major campaign issue during the electioneering period, one of these two reviews would have offered some relief at the pumps.

Crude prices dwindled to record lows of about $30 a barrel in the later months of 2008, after the commodity recorded its July peak price of $147 per barrel.

Oil prices have since the beginning of the year picked a slow rise to $41 a barrel, as deepening U.S. recession shrank demand in the world's top fuel burner and evidence mounted of a global downturn.

Market watchers say crude price is expected to rebound anytime soon, as OPEC is considering a further cut in output to prop up prices.

The debate as to whether the economic team of the Mills led Administration has the Midas touch to bring to pass their Master's word of reducing prices in these circumstances continues.

A school of thought has suggested that the current situation on the world market, coupled with the already ailing Ghanaian economy, makes it difficult to think of a price reduction now and that the onus lies on the government to make this clear to the citizenry, some of who are itching for a promise fulfilled.

“It is the reality against a wish,” an expert in the oil industry has described the situation.

But the “cautious optimists” say it is early days yet to hurry the new administration into fulfilling promises. As one of them puts it “Let's wait to see what surprises there may be at the break of the silence.”