High Fuel Prices: Consumers agitate

Consumers of Petroleum products in Ghana are furiously complaining against what they have described as “all-year high prices adjustment”.

Consumers are currently paying more for petrol and diesel few months after enjoying fairly low prices.

Prices of the two products at the various fuel stations have hit all time high, with petrol selling at GHC4.29, and diesel going for GHC4.23 per litre, as at the third week of September 2017.

The Institute of Energy Security (IES) had earlier predicted a 7% increase in fuel prices.

The increase has been attributed to the marginal depreciation of the cedi, as well as increased global crude oil prices due to the recent floods in the US which affected production at major oil companies.

The Principal Research Analyst at the Institute of Energy Security, Richmond Rockson, said “We are expecting prices to rise between seven and ten percent and this will have an impact on consumers.”

“This probably will be the most significant. The cedi also keeps depreciating. After the storm Harvey, refineries were affected so prices will definitely go up,” he added.

Petrol and diesel are the most patronized fuel products in Ghana, and any increase usually affects transport fares and impacts cost of general goods.

Data from the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), showed that petrol and diesel only increased marginally between February and March, but dropped significantly between April and July until it gained momentum in August 2017.

However, some key stakeholders have backed the call for government intervention to reduce the prices of the petrol and diesel.

The Institute of Energy Security (IES), has thereby called on government to review taxes and other levies on petroleum products to make them a bit cheaper for Ghanaians.

Currently, data from the National Petroleum Authority shows that there are about 10 different kinds of taxes and levies on petroleum products.

The principal research analyst at IES, Richmond Rockson, argued that the adverse effect of the increment in fuel prices on consumers could be minimal if government scraps some of the taxes.

“The first thing that should go is the special petroleum tax. I don’t think that there is any need for government to impose 15 percent there. There is no point in that. Some of them can also be reviewed; I don’t see why the road fund should be 40 pesewas, it’s too much. The price stabilization and recovery levy must also go, especially when government is passing the cost on to consumers. There is no point keeping that in there as well,” he added.

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA) has said price jumps at the pumps will have to be justified by the OMCs.

NPA’s Director in charge of Pricing, Research and Planning, Alpha Welbeck have noted that, the Authority will regulate the market to avoid disparity in prices.

She, however, expressed optimism petrol prices will go down in the next window when the international market has stabilised.

But, the former Deputy Minister for Power, John Jinapor, has challenged government to make public detailed information on the recent increases in fuel prices.

According to him, the government’s decision to “clandestinely” increase the price of fuel is “unfortunate”.

Mr Jinapor stressed that, the fuel price increase is an indication of the government’s failure to keep up with its campaign promise of removing taxes that contribute to the fuel price build up.

“I went to the pump today [Tuesday], and realized there is an increment. NPA and government must come out clear on what is happening. This idea of clandestinely increasing fuel prices is most unfortunate. If you increase fuel prices, communicate it, so that there is no ambiguity,” John Jinapor said.

Some drivers, especially in Accra, have in the past week complained about an exponential increase in the price of fuel at various fuel stations although there has not been any official communication from the government or any agency in the petroleum sector to that effect.

Source: Adana Adams Mohammed

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