“Wahala” Gurus Goof At Press Conference
United States Senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan is credited with the profound assertion that “Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but not to their own set of facts”.
Mr. Ato Ahwoi of the NDC and Mr. Kwesi Pratt, Managing Editor of the “Insight” as well as other leading members of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA) were last Tuesday found wanting when they failed to substantiate claims the CJA had made to the effect that “the Kufuor administration is not yet ready to deal honestly with the people” and that “it has become fashionable for the President and government members to talk down to Ghanaians, as if they are tin gods”.
The above assertions were contained in a press statement Mr.Ahwoi was reading on behalf of the CJA to media practitioners at a press conference aimed at vindicating the CJA's position that government can accommodate higher ex refinery costs while achieving stable ex pump prices.
When this reporter pleaded with Mr. Ahwoi to explain and substantiate his negative allegations, the NDC guru blatantly said he would not do so. Below is a transcript of what transpired.
* Crusading GUIDE: In your delivery, you said somewhere that the current government is being dishonest with Ghanaians, and then added that some of them talk down to Ghanaians as if they are tin gods. I would plead with you to be a little bit precise where lies the dishonesty and who speaks to who, looking down on the person as if the person was a tin god?My second question, if the world price of crude oil has gone up, yet the ex pump price has not gone up, isn't it an instance for you to pat the government on the back and say kudus?Is the CJA saying that it is because of your demonstrations that the government has not increased the ex-pump price? Isn't it that the government is being sensitive to Ghanaians?
* ATO AHWOI: The first question, I would not answer that because it is not part of the statement. (Meanwhile page two, paragraph two of the said statement clearly has the two statements printed in black and white!)
* Crusading GUIDE: But you just said that?
* Ato Ahwoi: I said it but it is not important.
* Crusading GUIDE: What about the second part?
Ato Ahwoi: The second part, I would answer it by saying that we went on demonstrations and said the n paper brought out a whole lot of documents from Professor Addae-Mensah and other people, saying that there is subsidy on the ex refinery price, you brought figures from the Bank of Ghana, from Professor Addae-Mensah and all that. We kept telling you that we were not interested in the ex-refinery because we are not talking about ex-refinery. We kept telling your paper in particular that we are talking about taxes. Now the government has agreed with taxes were too high. Your ow us that they can do something by reducing the taxes which we have said all along that taxes are too high, so the government should reduce the taxes. So we think we have achieved something. If the government wants to take the credit, so be it, they can take the credit but then Ghanaians would know who exactly have made it possible for them to do what they are doing, and for which they are taking credit.
* Crusading GUIDE: There is a middle question sir, you ignored the one on dishonesty what about the one about tin gods?
* Ato Ahwoi: I don't think that is the issue. We started by telling you that we are going to talk about petroleum prices.
* Crusading GUIDE: But you mentioned it and this is a Press Conference where you are expected to justify any thing you say.
* Ato Ahwoi: I will not answer it!
* Crusading GUIDE: Thank you. (Subsequently Kwesi Pratt takes the mike)
Kwesi Pratt: Then there is a question from a gentleman from The Crusading GUIDE about the basis of some of the assertions which have been made in the statement. I would advise him very, very strongly to read the statement and he would find that all the incidents are listed. It is mentioned in the statement that the Vice President Aliu Mahama, indicated that petroleum prices were being subsidised when he was fully aware of the July 15th arrangement and so on. So every detail is produced here and if you read this carefully, it may not be necessary for you to ask the question you asked. Thank you.
* Crusading GUIDE: If I may come in here. I thought Mr. Ahwoi decided to ignore the question. But if you are answering it based on the way you are explaining the issue, then you might as well answer that of the “tin gods”.
* Kwesi Pratt: Read the statement.
* Crusading GUIDE: I don't understand, you wrote it so you have to explain it. (At this point, a reporter from The Daily Graphic said that it was normal for the CJA to explain aspects of the statement the press did not understand. He continued that since it was a press conference, the Journalist may decide to pick the lead from any angle).
Mr. Ahwoi then insinuated that he was referring to President Kufuor on the “tin god” issue.
Mr. Ahwoi said the President was behaving like a tin good who at a recent meeting with the Council of State, made a statement that “those people making the noise should shut up”.
Meanwhile, official and non-confidential documents emanating from the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), the National Petroleum Tender Board (NPTB), the Ministry of Energy (MOE), the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MOF & EP) and the Bank of Ghana (BoG), provide clear substantiable evidence that the Vice President was not being dishonest because the government indeed had subsidised the price of petroleum prices in favour of the consuming public. This subsidy was done by bankrolling of under-recoveries 'suffered' by TOR and the Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) from July 2003 to January/February2005.
These documents, published in the March 29th to April 4th 2005 and the April 5th to April 11th 2005 editions of The Crusading GUIDE, clearly disprove claims by the CJA that the claim of subsidisation of petroleum price was a mark of dishonesty on the part of government. Professor Addae-Mensah, Chairman of the NPTB, which was established to manage the implementation of the National Petroleum Pricing Formula, had on several occasions logically explained and practically illustrated that there was a discount of ¢1,000 per kilograme on LPG, a discount of ¢184.49 on kerosene, a discount of ¢60.87 on gas oil and a discount of ¢422.87 on Marine Gas Oil (MGO).
The Professor had also dared the CJA to get all current documents on the oil price build up in order to get better informed.
Last Tuesday's CJA Press Conference was attended by Benard Monarh of the PNC, Dr. Daniel Perssy of the Reform Party, Mariam Sinare, Ama Benyiwa Doe and Bede Zeden, all of the NDC and Kofi Wayo and Dany Ofori Atta of the Grand Coalition.
Stay tuned for more reactions to the CJA's latest claims and assertions on the petroleum price build-up and the subsidy palaver.