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25.07.2005 General News

Do not politicise issues on petroleum - Kufuor


Accra, July 25, GNA - Petroleum is so intricately enmeshed in the nation's socio-economic development that issues and decisions about it should not be politicised, President John Agyekum Kufuor cautioned in Accra on Monday.

"In recent times, issues about the nation's petroleum industry and the Government's pricing policy have engaged the nation's attention, unfortunately, in a very partisan manner," he noted.

President Kufuor was administering the Oaths of Office and Secrecy to an eight-member Governing Board of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) at their inauguration at the Castle, Osu. The Board is under the chairmanship of Professor Ivan Addae-Mensah, Former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Ghana and Chairman of the National Petroleum Tender Board.

Other members are: Mr Mike Gizo, a Communications and Marketing Consultant; Professor Nii Ashie Kotey, Dean of the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana; Dr Alfred Ofosu Ahenkorah, Executive Director of the Energy Foundation and Mrs Gifty Eugenia Kusi, Member of Parliament for Tarkwa-Nsuem.

The rest are: Nana Akyena Nuama Kwagyan V, an Energy Consultant; Mr E.A. Mensah, General Secretary of the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers Union (GTPCWU) of the TUC and Mr Isaac Barnor of the Ghana National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

President Kufuor said in the face of the continuing rise in crude oil price on the world market, it was surprising that the so-called sincere and well-meaning Ghanaians were still commenting unfavourably on prevailing prices of petroleum products in Ghana. "Deliberately, such persons are refusing to acknowledge the danger that looms ahead.

"The solution demands pragmatic and concerted efforts rather than a mischievous partisan approach," he said.

President Kufuor said the membership of the Board had been carefully composed to reflect the combination of expertise and rich experience, which were required to provide vision and direction in the nation's deregulated petroleum industry, which was already attracting foreign investors.

He said the assignment was very challenging given the volatility of the crude oil market and its importance to the nation's socio-economic development.

Therefore, the Government was looking up to the Board to provide the NPA the vision, energy and dynamism it needed to succeed, the President said.

Professor Addae-Mensah said the inauguration of the Board had ushered the national policy of deregulation of the petroleum sector to the next level of implementation.

He said with regard to the enormity of the challenges ahead of the NPA, members of the Board were expected to show firmness, fairness, transparency and limitless levels of integrity and accountability. "We must be fearless and bold in taking decisions, however, pleasant or unpleasant they may be and even if this will mean stepping on a few swollen toes," he said.

Professor Addae-Mensah said whatever decision that would be taken by the Board, however, unpleasant it might be, should be guided by their desire to strive for the best interests of the entire nation and not the parochial or political interests of any section of the society or any particular stakeholder in the industry.

"This is a difficult job but it is a job that has to be done and we shall do it to the best of our ability," he said.

Under the Deregulation Law, Act 691, the NPA was set up as an independent body to oversee activities in the deregulated petroleum downstream sector.

Among the terms of reference of the NPA are to oversee and monitor activities in the petroleum industry to ensure an open and competitive environment for private sector participation.

This would involve realistic pricing of petroleum products, issuing of licences to operators, quality control of their products and operations and ensuring adequate returns for investors.

The NPA would set industry standards and guarantee protection of the consumer and above all to ensure the availability of petroleum products at all times at affordable prices for efficient and effective economic activities in the country.