The minister for finance and economic planning, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, has advised critics of the recent petroleum product price increases to put their passions aside and consider the realities on the ground. He said crude oil prices were projected to average about $42,00 per barrel in 2005 and $40.00 a barrel in the medium-term in this year's budget statement and economic policy of the Government, but the recent price of $53,39 a barrel was a clear indication that the Government might not be able to recoup what it invested in the oil industry.
Reacting to criticisms on the Government's alleged insensitivity to the plight of Ghanaians, the minister reminded the critics that “we need the crude oil but we do not produce or price them and once our currency is not very strong, we are bound to face such a situation.” “The current trend in oil prices on the world market is a clear indication that the Government will always run into debt through subsidy in its bid not to pass on the rising prices of crude oil to the consumer,” the minister emphasized.
According to the minister, the Government paid ¢1.772 trillion to subsidise fuel in 2004. In addition, it paid ¢749 billion as interest on the Tema Oil Refinery's existing debt. “These facts, which included the payment of ¢67.5 billion to support the activities of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) Limited, are clearly stated in this year's budget statement and the records are there for all to see,” the minister emphasised.
Mr Baah-Wiredu reminded Ghanaians that those were hard facts and it was, therefore, unfortunate that some critics had been stating that the Government did not pay any subsidies. He said the Government would continue to institute measures to cushion Ghanaians against the fuel price increases.