16.03.2005 General News

Petroleum deregulation is necessary - Oquaye

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Accra, March 16, GNA- Professor Mike Oquaye, Minister of Energy, on Wednesday said the deregulation of petroleum in the country was a necessary step carefully considered by the government to ensure a more balanced supply and ensure sustainability.

He said that, due to the constant rise of the price of crude oil on the world market and an impending debt, government could not continue to provide fuel at such low cost, since it would hamper development of other sectors in the country.

Prof. Oquaye, who was speaking at an educational forum organised by the E-World, an NGO for the Muslim community at Nima, said it was necessary for the public to appreciate government's efforts in trying to ensure the continuous supply of fuel at very low rates.

Her said Ghana was the only country within the sub-region that was selling petrol at such cheap price and "this has often led to the expansion of the smuggling business of some unscrupulous persons." He explained that the slightly higher price of petrol was intended to supplement that of the premix and the LPG gas to enhance the work of the fishing industry.

He further stated that other taxes, including the road tax on the petrol would help in the maintenance of the road network in the country and said revenue from the sale of petroleum would be invested into education to ensure free basic and first cycle education for all. Prof. Oquaye therefore, appealed to the public to report persons who smuggle fuel across the borders to the police for action. He called on the public to be weary of politicians who know the fact about world fuel prices, but try to play on the ignorance of unsuspected citizens for their own political gains.

He commended the organisers of the programme, which, he said, would offer government the opportunity to dialogue with the local people on its policies.

He pledged government's commitment towards ensuring peace and good governance.

Alhaji Alhasan Abdulai, Executive Director, E-world for Sustainable Development, said the forum, which would be a continuous event was intended to launch an outreach programme in the less endowed areas of the country where government officials would be called upon to explain policies and programmes better to the people. He said this would offer the people a better understanding of such policies and programmes so that they could also make inputs for better outcome.

Alhaji Abdulai stated: "a sound and orderly development of any nation would be possible only when its people are able to participate in the decision-making process of the country." He however, explained that the forum would strictly be non-partisan and would not entertain party colours or paraphernalia, but would rather encourage all persons to participate equally in discussions. Chief Baba Issah, Chief of the Wangara Community, Ayawaso urged the people to be open-minded and face the realities of the current world developments. He appealed to government to intensify education on the budget and the deregulation of petroleum in other communities as it was causing a lot of confusion. 16 March 05.

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