Gov’t considering mitigating measures

By Emmanuel Akli

Vice President John Mahama (left), Alhaji Inusa Fusein Dept. Energy Minister (right)

Massive protests that have greeted the new petrol prices has compelled the  government to begin an economic and social impact analysis to determine the effect of the new prices on both business and social activities in the country.
The outcome of the analysis would be the benchmark for the government to determine the kind of mitigating measures it would adopt to cushion the effects.
The government came out with similar mitigating measures when there was an uproar over the new utility tariffs announced by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), barely a year ago.
The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) announced on Monday, this week, 30% increases in prices of petroleum products, except kerosene and premix fuel. The 5% Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) debt recovery levy, which was recently passed by Parliament, 4% margin for dealers in the petroleum products, and 24% price difference went into the computerisation of the new prices.
At the time the bill for the TOR recovery levy was sent to Parliament, the cost of crude oil per barrel stood at $75, but the figure went up to $92 when calculations for the new prices began. The NPA, therefore, decided to strike the difference between the two figures, and arrived at 24%.
This brought the total price build up to 33%.  But, after consultation with the government, the figure was slashed down to 30%. The 30% computerisation and the subsequent new petroleum prices have, however, been met with stiff opposition from the general public.
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) caucus in Parliament, the Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) Ghana, have all protested against the new price hike, which has shot up transport fares. AFAG, in particular, says it will advice itself if the government fails to review the new price within the next tens days.
The Deputy Minister of Energy, Alhaji Inusa Fuseini, told The Chronicle in an interview in Accra yesterday, that the Atta Mills government was a listening one, and that was why it had begun the economic and social impact analysis to determine the effect of the new prices, and what can be done to mitigate the social  impact, if any.
According to Inusa Fuseini, Vice President John Dramani Mahama had already set the ball rolling, by meeting stakeholders in Accra last Tuesday, to discuss the issue.
He argued that the government was not insensitive to the plight of the people. If it were, it would not have suggested the removal of the 3% from the initial 33% cost build up that was sent to the government, and the decision not to levy premix fuel and kerosene, which is heavily patronised by those in the lower income bracket.
The Deputy Minister would, however, not stick his neck out as to whether the new petroleum prices would be reduced or not, saying the outcome of the analysis would determine the steps that the government would take on the matter.

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