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23.02.2005 General News

Petroleum Hikes Meant To Generate Revenue-NDC

By Joy

The National Democratic Congress, (NDC) has asked government to explain how it subsidized fuel prices before last Friday's hike in the price of petroleum products.

One of the key reasons given by government for the increment was, it could not continue with the ¢150 –billion subsidy paid monthly to support the sector.

But a leading member of the opposition party Ato Ahwoi says the NPP administration has been insincere about the subsidy.

Mr. Ahwoi wants the government to indicate the real reasons for the price hike which he says is primarily aimed at generating revenue.

Mr. Ahwoi, one time Secretary of Fuel and Power in the PNDC regime was reviewing the Price Build-up that led to the 50 per cent increase in the price of Petroleum products.

Mr Ahwoi was speaking to Joy New at the NDC headquarters after the party's news conference, on the recent petroleum price hikes.

“As you go through the petroleum price build up you realize that all these hype about a subsidy which has to be removed, is not true because the taxes which are being collected is so much that, why are they saying that they are subsidizing petrol?” he asked.

“You cannot in one sense collect tax from a place and at the same time say you are subsiding that thing, it is not possible, all I am saying is that if the government wants to use petrol as a revenue generating measure it should come out clearly and say so, it should not throw dust into our eyes and say that they are removing subsidy, there are no subsidies to remove…” he said.

Mr. Ahwoi said although the minority agrees that revenues ought to be generated for development purposes, the subsidy approach adopted by the government is not right.

Quizzed whether he was comfortable with the increases in Petroleum price products, he replied “ How can I be comfortable when I have proven to you that the prices are not justified”.

“If government wants to raise revenue they should tell us that they want to raise revenue, they should level with us but they shouldn't use the excuse that there is a subsidy that they want to remove… he said.”

“As a former minister in charge of revenue I know that government has to raise revenue, in fact it was during my time that I introduced the Petroleum tax, when I was the PNDC Secretary for Energy so if they want to use petrol as a means of generating revenue, they should tell us that but not lie to us….” he said.

Asked about what alternatives he would look at in terms of revenue generation, he said there are several ways, stressing “ there are other areas where people are making monies and they are not paying taxes, if we look at those areas we can get more money than what we think we can get from the petroleum sector” he said.

“We should put on or thinking caps and let us be more imaginative, if this government hasn't got imaginations, they should look for people who have imaginations and can tell them how revenues can be generated… he added”.

Quizzed if he was ready to offer that consultancy, he said, “If even I were ready I know they won't accept it”.

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