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28.01.2005 General News

National debate on deregulation of petroleum

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Accra, Jan. 28, GNA - Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, Minister designate for Energy, on Friday assured the nation that deregulation of petroleum products would only be implemented after a national debate and broad consultation with experts.

He said deregulation was not a bad idea per se but care should be taken to monitor the activities of the prospective investors so that they do not create a cartel to control prices.

Prof. Oquaye made these remarks when he appeared before the Appointments Committee, which is vetting ministerial appointees. "I don't agree that deregulation of petroleum will hike prices since there would be ceilings as to how the products will sell.

Competition amongst the would-be operators will also help bring down prices.

"Care should also be taken to fix rational prices so that the rural communities, who depend on kerosene as a major source of energy can afford it."

The Minister-designate for Energy who is also the Member of Parliament for Dome-Kwabenya said deregulation was a step taken by the government to rationalise the petroleum sector by allowing the private sector to play a role in the importation of the commodity. On his plans for alternative source of energy, Prof. Ocquaye said areas such as wind and solar energy especially for rural communities would be pursued.

When asked if he would consider pursuing nuclear energy, the Minister-designate said: "Much as I am in favour of nuclear energy it is very expensive to set it up."

He said he would harmonise and coordinate the activities of all the sectors under the Ministry, including the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, Volta River Authority and the Tema Oil Refinery in other to maximise energy production in the country.

"It will be my duty to work with the Energy Commission, which is the overall authority before implementing any of my visions." On his achievement during his duty tour as an Ambassador to India, Prof. Oquaye said he was able to initiate the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the government and an India firm to prospect for oil in Ghana.

He said he would ensure that Ghana benefits from a 500 million-dollar package India had made available to nine African countries as aid.

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