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15.08.2005 General News

Rawlings Increased Fuel Prices By 120,000%

By Statesman

FORMER President Jerry John Rawlings and a man who is said to have argued in favour of raising revenue through petroleum taxes, during his time in charge of IRS, John Evans Atta Mills, have been at the forefront of nationwide demonstrations against fuel price increases under the New Patriotic Party. But, The Statesman can disclose that consumers of Kerosene – a commodity used by majority of rural dwellers - saw the retail price of the fuel increased by more than 120,000 percent in 18 years under the founder of the National Democratic Congress.

Though the cost of living in Ghana has increased continuously since Independence in 1957, government statistics show that, in spite of the ongoing liberalisation of the economy under John Agyekum Kufuor, its corresponding hardship on the Ghanaian today has not been that severe, compared to. In fact, Ghanaians faced the most intensified period of hardship under the 19-year rule of Jerry John Rawlings. Thus, whereas cost of living continues to rise under John Agyekum Kufuor, there is, however, a mark improvement, evidenced by a decrease in the severity of the rise.

We start this week by looking at a product that is generally seen as a prime indicator on the cost of living here in Ghana – petroleum products.

In the eleven years under the Provisional National Defence Council, the price of a gallon of Premium rose by 13,048.14 percent - from ¢2.7 a litre in October 1982 to ¢355 a litre by January 6, 1993. None of the other major petroleum products was spared. During the same period, Diesel shot up by 15,794.73% - from ¢1.9 to ¢302 per litre. Price of Kerosene increased from ¢1.1 a litre to ¢250 – a jump of 22,627.27%.

Put the 19 years under Mr Rawlings together and the figures simply expose the apparent dishonesty and treachery in the former President leading a 'Wahala' march. Between October 1, 1982 and March 10, 2000 the price of premium jumped to ¢1,420 per litre, representing a 52,492.59% hike. Diesel faired worse – rising by 69,636.84%.

Worst to be hit was a commodity used by the majority of rural dwellers – Kerosene. The price of Kerosene, under Mr Rawlings, was progressively increased by 120,445.45%. It rose from ¢1.1 a litre in 1982 to ¢1,326 in March 2000. However, between March 10, 2000 and the latest price changes this month, Premium has gone up by 377.30%, Kerosene by 268.69% and Diesel by 357.86%.

What the above statistics and several others over the same period show is that Ghanaians witnessed astronomical increases in retail prices under the 19 years of PNDC/NDC, as Mr Rawlings attempted to fix the ills of the economy. Most tellingly, earnings of the Ghanaian worker were suppressed and could therefore never keep up with the escalating prices of goods and services. This was not helped by falling standards in education, which denied skills to several people in a growing population. A survey showed that on an annual basis over 240,000 JSS leavers were being thrown out onto the streets with no basic skills. The source of the information (which is provided in a table form on P 8) is the Ministry of Energy. The information is available on the IMF website.