CJA condemns government’s fuel price hikes

The Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a political pressure group on Wednesday condemned the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Government for the increase in prices of petroleum products.

It said “Government is using the same tired excuses of rise in crude prices on the world market, the need to remove government subsidies, recovering the TOR debt and the increase in the profit margins of fuel distributors in the country.”

The group said the fallacy in using this argument was that the Government had been telling Ghanaians in the past that they had been reaching agreements with oil producing countries for negotiated prices and favourable payment terms.

It cited that in May 2010 the Government informed Ghanaians that they had struck a deal with the Government of Equatorial Guinea for the supply of one million barrels of oil a year, as well as other oil deals with Libya and Nigeria.

Mr Kwesi Adu, a member of the CJA made the condemnation at a press conference in Accra.

He called on the President Mills’ administration to take genuine steps to adequately deal with public concerns about the recent fuel increases.

Mr Adu said it was time to concentrate on dealing with massive corruption and thievery in the revenue-generating agencies to increase revenue.

The group contended that it was untenable for the NDC Government to use the level of spot-market prices to determine the levels of national fuel prices, because in February 2010, it informed Ghanaians that under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Administration, as much as GH¢270 million collected for the recovery of the TOR debt, were misapplied to pay off journalists to conduct propaganda for the NPP.

It said instead of the Government taking genuine steps to recover those monies and bring the perpetrators to face the law, they were virtually allowing those who diverted public funds to get away and later asking Ghanaians to pay a whooping 400 per cent increment for the TOR recovery levy.

Mr Adu said it was unacceptable that, at a time when Ghanaians had not seen much improvement in their living conditions, the Government should be asking them to carry an additional tax burden just to increase the profit margins of petroleum distributors in the country, adding “This is a show of gross insensitivity.”

He pointed out that, the CJA was particularly incensed that whenever the Government was unable to apply proper scrutiny and efficiency in the nation’s finances, their first instinct was to tax the poor people more.

“We cannot forget that in 2009, the Government increased road and bridge tolls by as much as 1,000 per cent. One would then expect that revenue from the tolls would have increased by same margin.

“But only resulted in an additional increase of toll revenue by only106 per cent, where is the additional 894 per cent of revenue,” he asked.

Mr Adu said instead of the Government plugging the holes to check thievery in the sector, it rather decided to tax the people even more with further increases in petroleum prices.

The CJA reminded the NDC Government of its campaign promise to reduce the prices of fuel to the consumer when elected into power.

Mr Adu said under the Kufuor Administration when the price per barrel of crude oil reached $139.83, the ex-pump price of petrol per litre was GH¢1.18.

He asked, “What sound explanation can the NDC give to justify the fact that now that the price of Brent Crude is less than $96 per barrel we should pay GH¢ 1.52 per litre”.

Meanwhile, the CJA had reacted to certain criticisms levelled against them by the opposition NPP accusing the party of showing some level of hypocrisy and inconsistency.

The group said, “They are not moving an inch on this matter just to please the NPP and nothing would prevent them from going on demonstrations if they morally feel justified.”

The NPP at a recent press conference on the increase accused the CJA of being in-bed with President Mills’ led NDC Government and therefore had not made any attempt to organise nationwide demonstrations against the Government as they did against the NPP Government.

Mr Adu recalled that during the NPP Administration when they were embarking on nationwide demonstrations, the NPP Government subjected them to severe beatings and turned the footages of their demonstrations into TV advertisement describing them as unemployed people, hooligans and vagrants.

Source: GNA

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