Reduce fuel price now – Ghana Trades Union tells government

The Ghana Trades Union Congress  (TUC ) has said it does not support Government on the recent fuel price increases, and for choosing to follow the International Monetary Fund in taking such major decision regarding fuel price determination in Ghana.

The TUC said: “We would rather sympathise with Ghanaian workers and their families and the people of Ghana, generally for the harsh economic and social realities they are confronted with and following from the above, the TUC urges Government to reduce fuel prices without further delay.”

This was contained is a statement signed by TUC General Secretary, Mr Kofi Asamoah , in a reaction to the Daily Graphic publication on January 14th and 16th caption: “Government to reduce hardship of workers”,  copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Monday.

It said the leadership of TUC and other stakeholders, the Association of Ghana Industries, Ghana Employers Association, Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Ghana Bankers’ Association met with the Government Economic Management Team at Osu Castle, Accra, last Friday.

The statement recalled that the meeting, which was chaired by Vice President John Dramani Mahama, deliberated on the recent increases in prices of petroleum products, high cost of borrowing, measures to raise revenue and the general economic situation in the country.

It said the meeting offered the TUC an opportunity to re-state its position on the fuel price increase, which was as a result of Government decision to withdraw subsidies on petroleum products.

The statement stated that for the avoidance of any doubt, the position of the TUC was that the condition, which necessitated the introduction of subsidies by previous Governments, were still valid and it was necessary for the current Government to continue with the subsidization of petroleum products.

It said “In addition, the position was informed that fuel price increases of the magnitude observed in 2011 was spill-over effects on prices over 70 per cent of the total expenditure for the vast majority of Ghanaians ,who earn very low incomes and subsidies help to mitigate the effects of fuel price increase on the most vulnerable section of the society.”

The statement said the meeting also gave the Government economic team the opportunity to explain why it was necessary for Government to withdraw subsidies on petroleum products.

It said the Government team mentioned “what is essentially a wish-list of measures Government intends to take to cushion workers against the effects of the fuel price increases.”

The statement said measures among these was the early payment of salaries for January 2012 and payment of outstanding salary arrears to public sector workers by June this year, and the importation of more buses to improve public transport.

It said the TUC made it clear to the team that it was not impressed by these measures and added that “in our view these measures were inadequate in addressing the hardships the increase has imposed on Ghanaians, and we find it unfair and insensitive on the part of Government when its asks Ghanaians to continue to bear the harsh economic realities brought about by these steep increases as it prepares to import more buses”.

The statement said Government could have brought in the buses before announcing the increases, and indicated that “as for the directives of early payment of salaries for January the least said about it the better. How would early payment of the already low salary in the public sector mitigate the economy-wide effects of fuel price increase.”

It said the TUC would hold Council of Labour meeting in all the 10 Regions in the country to seek the view of workers on Government decision to withdraw subsidies on petroleum products that lead to the astronomical increases in fuel prices, which would inform the way forward.

Source: GNA

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