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19.05.2004 General News

Who Is Lying: NPP Or Nduom

By The Searchlight

Crude oil prices have hit $41 per barrel on the international market, and now it has become very important that Ghanaians know whether the country is being plunged into further debt by the NPP government.

But before then, somebody up there is fibbing Ghanaians as to exactly how government is paying for the subsidies on fuel. Which of these two government men are lying about the matter of fuel subsidies? Is it Hon. Ken Agyapong of the National Petroleum Tender Board or Dr. Kwesi Nduom, Minister of Energy? Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom has always insisted that the government itself has been subsidizing petroleum products since the middle of last year.

But Hon. Ken Agyepong, who is on the National Petroleum Tender Board, insists that the government has been diverting statutory payments for the repayment of the Tema Oil Refinery debt into shoring up the shortfalls occasioned by the rise in crude oil prices on the international market.

In effect, government is not subsidizing so much as diverting monies lawfully set aside for one purpose or another purpose. On at least three different occasions, Dr. Nduom has said that the government is subsidizing fuel for Ghanaians.

Speaking at the launch of training programmes on sustainable energy for decision makers in Accra on March 2 this year, the minister said the cost of lifting crude oil on the international market has increased from 12 dollars to 40 dollars and that government has been paying for the increase since the quarter of 2003. Again on May 7 this year during the inauguration of the Legon Oando Filling Station, the minister said, “You will recall that prior to 2001 TOR accumulated significant financial debt that has become a significant burden for government and the taxpayer. This situation, I can assure you is being managed successfully even in the face of formidable difficulties.

But according to Hon. Ken Agyapong, who is on the national petroleum tender board which is charged with regulating fuel prices, the government has been using the funds meant for the repayment of the Tema Oil Refinery debt to shore up the prices of the fuel consumer in order for the price to stabilize at current rates in the face of rising crude prices and freight charges. In effect, someone is not telling the people of Ghana the truth.

Either the minister of energy is lying about the government subsidizing fuel and successfully managing the Tema oil refinery debt at the same time or Hon. Agyepong is lying about the government diverting funds meant to repay the TOR debt into shoring up the prices of fuel products on the market, which cannot, be any stretch of imagination, be described as subsidizing fuel and successfully managing the TOR debt. So which of the two government men are lying?

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