Ho, April 13, GNA - Mr Kan Dapaah, Minister of Communication and Technology on Tuesday said petroleum tax increases were necessary towards raising enough revenue to keep the engine of state running. "It's a choice we have to make", he told the People's Assembly at Ho, where he explained issues pertaining to petroleum pricing and de-regulation.
Mr Dapaah said government's reliance on revenue from petroleum taxes was a result of the country's weak economy, relative to the huge debt burden and the colossal public sector that it had to cater for. He said the need to de-regulate the petroleum sector was realised by both the government and its immediate predecessor of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) both of who saw the damage being done to the economy by subsiding the petroleum sector.
Mr Dapaah said the basic difference was, however, the approaches they each adopted in financing the subsidies.
He explained that whereas the NDC borrowed massively from the banking sector to finance the subsidies because of the poor revenue from cocoa and gold, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government relied on the windfalls from improved prices from gold and cocoa.
"What went into subsidising petroleum in both cases, however, could have gone into development." he said.
In her presentation on the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS), Dr Gladys Ashietey, Deputy Minister for Health said people in the rural areas needed to be educated to understand that the scheme was in their favour. She said the scheme sought to make the rich help the poor to have access to good health services.
On security Captain Nkrabea Effah-Dartey (rtd), Deputy Minister for the Interior, gave the assurance that the government would not abdicate its responsibility to ensure peace in the country to enable all citizens go about their lawful activities without fear. He said it was for that reason that the government was focusing its attention on meeting the manpower and logistics needs of the police to make them visible everywhere in the country. "We have declared war on armed robbery", he added.
Captain Effah-Dartey said the courts should be the place for resolving all disputes and not the resort to violence.
Issues discussed during the open forum included the imminent closure of the Juapong Textiles Limited and its social and economic consequences to the workers, the authority of chiefs, roads in the Region and the proposal for a university in the Region.
Other topics raised included the need for non-partisan brainstorming on how to deal with the problems of the petroleum sector, the poor remuneration in the public sector, activities of non-governmental organisations in the Region and the late commencement of public functions among others.