CJA calls for prosecution
The Committee for Joint Action (CJA) has vehemently called on the Prof. Mills-lead government to prosecute officials of the previous New Patriotic Party (NPP) government for diverting an amount of GH¢270 million, meant for the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) debt recovery levy, to pay journalists to do NPP propaganda work.
The pressure group stressed that the government must take genuine steps to recover those monies and bring the perpetrators to face the music.
Speaking yesterday at a well attended press conference on the recent increases in the prices of petroleum products in the country in Accra, a leading member of the CJA, Mr. Kwasi Adu, flanked by the Spokesperson of the group, Mr. Kwesi Pratt Jnr., added that instead of the government making efforts to recover those monies, 'they are virtually allowing those who diverted public funds to get away with the subversion of the national economy, by asking the ordinary people to pay for it'.
According to him, 'It is to pay for these diverted monies that the government has increased the TOR recovery levy by a whopping 400%. The message here is that it is all right for politicians to divert state money for parochial purposes and make the poor people of Ghana pay for it'.
The CJA finds it unacceptable that at a time when Ghanaians have not seen much improvement in their living conditions, the government should be asking the same poor people to carry the additional tax burden, just to increase the profit margins of petroleum distributors in the country.
Mr. Adu lamented that if this is not a show of gross insensitivity, then they do not know what else it is, adding 'the CJA is particularly incensed that whenever governments are unable to apply proper scrutiny and efficiency in the nation's finances, their instinct is to tax the poor people further'.
It would be recalled that in 2009, the government increased road and bridge tolls by as much as 1000%. One would then expect that revenue from the tolls would have increased by the same margin.
However, according to the government, the 1000% has only resulted in an additional increase of toll revenue by only 106%. Where is the additional 894% of revenue gone, he inquired.
Instead of the government plugging the holes to check thievery in this sector, they rather decided to tax the people even more, hence the recent increases in the prices of petroleum products of about 30%.
What sound explanation can the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) government give to justify the fact that now that the price of Brent Crude is less than $96 per barrel, that we should pay GH¢1.52 per litre, CJA quizzed.
In view of the above, and several other arguments that they raised in the past, the CJA strongly opposed the recent hikes in petroleum prices. They noted that it was time to concentrate on dealing with the massive corruption and thievery in the revenue-generating agencies to increase revenue.