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23.02.2005 General News

NDC to go on peaceful demonstrations over fuel prices

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Accra, Feb. 23, GNA - The National Democratic Congress (NDC) on Wednesday served notice to embark on a nationwide peaceful demonstration next week to press for the reversal of the current fuel price increase.

It said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Government had no justification for increasing super petrol price from 20,000 cedis to 30,000 cedis per gallon.

At a press conference to react to the increase in petroleum prices, Dr Obed Asamoah, Chairman of the NDC, said it was not fair for the Government to use the existence of a so-called subsidy to increase prices when it had the option to lower the various taxes, levies, duties and margins to keep fuel prices at reasonable limits. He said the NDC would have maintained the 20,000 cedis per gallon petrol price if it were in government since there was no justification for an increase.

Dr Asamoah said the first priority of any government worth its salt was to reduce economic hardship and to make life a little meaningful for its citizens but the NPP Government was rather doing the opposite.

He said the most outrageous excuse offered by the Government to justify the increases was its claim that the increase was carried out within the context of the so-called petroleum-sector de-regulation policy.

This, according to government would free resources used in subsidising prices of petroleum products for utilisation in other priority areas.

Dr Asamoah said the 50 per cent increase in the price of petroleum products would suffocate Ghanaians and force them to embrace poverty as their best companion.

He said drivers of passenger vehicles were complaining that the 30 per cent increase in fares fell short of what they needed to survive in business adding, "drivers of cargo vehicles are suffering in silence, industry is in a state of uncertainty while the public cries about high transport fares".

Dr Asamoah said since May 2003, there had not been any subsidy on petroleum products as the Government claimed but on the contrary the petroleum sector had been a major contributor to Government revenue accounting for 25 per cent of domestic revenue.

He said the Government's claim that petroleum prices had been subsidised since 2004 due to worldwide increase in crude oil prices was a fallacy.

Dr Asamoah said under the NDC, deregulation was being done in phases in order not to overburden Ghanaians but the pursuit of full cost recovery and maximum revenue yield in the shortest possible time by the NPP had led to the astronomical price increase.

He said the Government had been compelled to increase petroleum prices otherwise money from the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and other donors would not be forthcoming.

He said, even though, President John Agyekum Kufuor said prior to the elections that the Government had managed the economy so well that it had been able to absorb the high crude oil price on the world market thus making fuel price increases unnecessary, Ghanaians could now see that the economy had so been mismanaged that fuel price had to go up by 50 per cent two months after Election 2004.

"Or is it that as we suspect, the claims that the economy is buoyant are empty boasts? Whichever way you look at it, the fuel prices had vindicated the NDC and we are sorry to tell Ghanaians, we told you so."

Mr Ato Ahwoi, a Leading Member of the NDC, who gave a breakdown of the fuel prices in a paper titled: "Domestic Petroleum Price Build-Up" noted that in May 2003, the ex-refinery price per litre of premium petrol was 2,251 cedis while excise duty of 15 per cent Ad-Valorem was 337.75 cedis.

Excise Duty Specific, 200 cedis; TOR Debt Recovery Fund Levy 640 cedis; Road Fund Levy was 400 cedis; Energy Fund Levy, five cedis; Exploration Levy was three cedis; Strategic Stock Levy was 30 cedis, Primary Distribution Margin, 44 cedis and BOST Margin 88 cedis. Ex-Depot Price was 3,999.44 cedis; UPPF margin was 130 cedis; Dealer's Margin was 110 cedis and Marketer's Margin was 205 cedis bringing the Max Indicative Ex-Pump Price to 4,444.44 cedis per litre. He said compared to February 18 2005 the Ex-Refinery Price per litre was 3,032.26 cedis, while Excise Duty of 15 per cent Ad Valorem was 454.84 cedis.

Excise Duty Specific 200 cedis; TOR Debt Recovery Fund Levy was 640 cedis; Road Fund Levy was 600 cedis; Energy Fund Levy was five cedis; Exploration Levy was 10 cedis; Deregulatory Mitigating Levy, 442.58; Cross Subsidy Levy was 500 cedis; Primary Distribution Margin was 44 cedis and BOST Margin was 88 cedis.

Ex-Depot Price was 6,016.66 cedis; UPPF Margin was 200 cedis; Dealer's Margin was 175 cedis and Marketer's Margin was 275 cedis bringing the Max Indicative Ex-Pump price to 6,666.66 per litre. Mr Ahwoi said the figures indicated that the Government made a lot of revenue from the Sector, which belied its claim of subsidising petroleum products.