The pain of a hike in petroleum prices

Ghanaians certainly did not bargain for this pain when they voted to put President John Evans Atta Mills at Government House. On the campaign trail, the then leader of the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) pledged to reduce fuel prices drastically.

He started his new administration by getting a few pesewas off the price of a gallon of petrol that ex-President John Agyekum Kufuor and his New Patriotic Party administration had left off.

As it turned out, it was the calm before the storm. Petroleum prices have since been hiked at the whims and caprices of the new ruling class. Yesterday, after Ghanaians had celebrated one of the worst Christmas and New Year festivities, in terms of their ability to afford the basic necessities of life, the Government of John Evans Atta Mills slapped 30 percent increases in petroleum prices. A gallon of petrol now goes for GH¢6.89
The price hike is against the backdrop of the international price for crude oil hitting just under $90 a barrel. When the Kufuor regime sold petrol for GH¢5.5, crude oil was exchanging for $147 a barrel. And this is the economy supposedly doing better now than at any time in the history of this nation.

Naturally, the new price increase has induced a hike in lorry fares, putting a lot of strain on commuters. Like most Ghanaians, The Chronicle is unable to appreciate the rationale in putting nationals under so much economic stress immediately after coming out of one of the worst Yuletide festivities ever experienced by heads of households in this country.

When the 2011 Budget Statement was read stating increases in some of the taxation elements in the fixing of petroleum prices, government officials explained the increase as a minor price Ghanaians had to pay for a ‘Better Ghana’. It is turning out that the increases are not minor. A 30 percent increase can surely not be minor.

The increases are going to have a major impact on industry, which is already suffering from lack of inputs and rising cost of raw materials. It looks like this administration is more interested in the revenue it will get out of the increases, than building a robust economy.

It is beginning to be clear that those who fashioned out the increases had not factored in the considerable social impact. The Ghanaian is already reeling from economic policies that have increased the tax burden and impoverished many homes.

We cannot support this increase. It is inimical to the economic well-being of the ordinary man, and defeats Prof. Atta Mills and his government’s roof-top advertisement of building a ‘Better Ghana’. In all honesty, the petroleum price hike is a bitter pill to swallow.

We do not hesitate in adding that economically, this Professor is turning out to be a failure. For how long should Ghanaians continue to bear these pangs of economic pain before things get better?

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