Ghanaians woke up on Monday, 2nd September, 2019 to an announcement of yet another escalation in the prices of petroleum products by the Akufo-Addo Government.
This follows a directive by the state regulator, the National Petroleum Authority to Oil Marketing Companies to commence the application of what the Government calls “revised Energy Sector Levies” which were earlier announced by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta in his 2019 mid-year Budget Review.
What this means is that the price of both petrol and diesel have been increased by GHS0.20 per litre. These latest increases translate into the reality that under this callous and clueless Akufo-Addo government, Ghanaians will now have to purchase a litre of petrol for GHS5.39 and a gallon of same for almost GHS25.00 at the pump.
A noteworthy reminder is the fact that the price of both petrol and diesel was GHS3.6 per litre in January 2017 when President Akufo-Addo and his deceitful New Patriotic Party took office. Today, we are talking about a litre of petrol selling at GHS5.39, an increment of about 50% in just two and half years.
There is no doubt that this development will result in a negative ripple effect on the prices of goods and services and further deepen the already dire economic straits of the Ghanaian people.
It is important to state that any discussion of fuel price hikes at this material moment cannot be divorced from the bad and insensitive policies of President Akufo-Addo. Specifically, the latest escalation in fuel prices is directly linked to the sharp increase in Energy Sector Levies (ESLA) by the Akufo-Addo government in the 2019 Mid-Year Budget Review Statement.
What is even sadder, is the fact that ESLA which was introduced by the erstwhile Mahama/NDC regime to clear legacy debts in the energy sector was hypocritically described by President Akufo-Addo and the NPP then in opposition as nuisance and killer taxes, with a promise to scrap it when elected.
However, upon assuming office, President Akufo-Addo has not only maintained ESLA, but has actually extended its duration and further set a special purpose vehicle with it to raise five and seven-year bonds.
Aside from this fact is the profligate misapplication and misuse of revenues accruing from ESLA by this government. Since 2017, ESLA proceeds have been mismanaged, sometimes in questionable manner. In 2017 alone for example, about GHS600 million of ESLA proceeds was used to pay pension arrears, whilst in 2018, over GHS800 million could not be accounted for.
Also, it is worth noting that the Akufo-Addo government has realized more revenue from the petroleum sector than any other government in Ghana’s history. In terms of oil revenue alone, this government in 2017 and 2018 accrued GHS2.3 billion and GHS4.5 billion respectively, with a projected GHS6 billion for 2019, all as a result of the huge investments made by the erstwhile Mahama/NDC administration in the oil and gas sector.
Obviously, with this amount of revenue coming from oil production alone, and given the reckless mismanagement of ESLA proceeds by the Akufo-Addo government, there is absolutely no justification for any increase in Energy Sector Levies.
Furthermore, the NDC holds the view that until the marauding monster of corruption that this Akufo-Addo government is using to destroy Ghana is brought under control, any exercise of increasing taxes in order to finance the insatiable hunger of the bloated “elephant-size” Akufo-Addo government is untenable.
As we speak, Tax evasion by government officials continues to be rife under Akufo-Addo according to staff of the Ghana Revenue Authority, whilst the phenomenon of fuel fraud continues unabated. Yet, the suffering masses are being called upon to pay more by way of fuel prices in order to finance the corrupt, wasteful and ostentatious expenditure which has become the stock in trade of this government. This is unacceptable!
Again, inextricably linked to the the issue of fuel price hikes is the continuous nosedive of our currency against other major trading currencies. Today, the Ghanaian Cedi is trading at almost GH5.50 to the United States dollar. If we may ask, where is Dr. Bawumia, the economic wizard of the NPP, and what has happened to his magic wand to arrest the Dollar?
The Akufo-Addo government appears to be clueless as far as the management of the affairs of this country is concerned. Times are truly hard for the Ghanaian. Our economy is on a slippery slope down the abyss, but President Akufo-Addo cares little about his pledge to make life better for our people. A government that truly cares about its people will not be increasing fuel prices at a time when the citizenry are already experiencing excruciating hardships.
We therefore call on insensitive President Akufo-Addo to scrap the new increments in Energy Sector Levies with immediate effect.
Comrade Sammy Gyamfi
(National Communication Officer)