Ghana’s fuel prices up

The NPA released new ex-pump prices for petroleum products, above which no OMC should sell. The ex-pump price of premium petrol increased from ‘7,744.44 to ‘8,517.00, representing an increase of 9.98 percent, whiles that of diesel increased from ‘7,111.11 to ‘7,713.8, representing an 8.48 percent increase. Kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) registered increases of 20.4 percent and 12.5 percent from ‘5,333.33 and ‘5,517.24 to ‘6,422.22 and ‘6,206.90 respectively. These new prices were not announced with the usual press conference, but were displayed on bill boards of fuel stations, with the Chief Executive Officer of the NPA, Mr John Atafuah, saying that the OMCs will determine their own prices for each product, which should not be higher than the maximum indicative fuel prices determined and gazetted by the NPA in line with the NPA Act. “All retail outlets are expected to boldly display the prices of products they offer for sale to consumers through the price billboards. Failure to display shall attract the appropriate sanctions,” he admonished. He said the Authority would continue to monitor closely the phase in line with the mandate given it to ensure that any immediate problems that may arise are quickly resolved. He advised the consuming public to report any cheating behaviour of fuel attendants to the NPA. When the Business Chronicle asked why petroleum prices are now being quoted in litres, Mr Atafuah responded that the NPA has reverted to the metric system and now calculates everything in litres. In the company of the NPA boss, the Business Chronicle and some other reporters visited a number of gas stations in Accra, where it became evident that different OMCs quoted different prices with Shell stations registering the lowest of them all. Premium petrol is sold at ‘8,517 at Total stations, ‘8,492 at Shell stations, ‘8,508 at GOIL stations and ‘8,512 at Mobil stations. They are all below the maximum selling ceiling price of ‘8,517. Diesel is also sold per litre at ‘7,790 at Total, ‘7,689 at Shell, ‘7,705 at GOIL and ‘7,709 at Mobil filling stations. However, when the Avenor GOIL station was visited, the station was quoting ‘8,560 per liter, obviously higher than the ceiling price per litre for petrol. When Mr Atafuah queried the manager in charge of the station, Madam Comfort Affum, about source of their price, she said she had heard it on the airwaves. Mr Atafuah and Mr Isaac Tagoe, Technical Director of the NPA, advised her on the correct price and insisted that she quoted a new figure within the limited set by the Authority. But motorists who bought fuel from them before the changes had been cheated and it was because of such problems, Mr Atafuah said, they decided to visit some fuel stations to get first hand evidence on what was going on. Mr Tagoe warned that any fuel station that priced its products above the maximum set by the NPA would be closed down. On the exorbitant fares being charged by commercial vehicles, the chairman for Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council, Mr Kojo Adom Moses, warned drivers to charge fares that have been approved by the council. According to him, with fuel taking 26.69 percent of the weight in calculating new fares, the effect of the 10 percent increase will equal a 2.7 percent increase in fares. He warned commercial drivers not to charge above the 2.7 percent. He cited an example that present fares of ‘1,500.00 would increase to ‘1,540.50 representing a ‘405.00 increase. He said it is the duty of the government and parliamentarians to defend the people of the country from hardships such as exorbitant fare hikes because the people voted them into office to pursue their interests. In an interview with some drivers of commercial vehicles, it became evident that they are charging above approved fares in order to meet new sales levels set by their vehicle owners. Mr Kojo Thompson, a taxi driver, said his vehicle owner who was closely awaiting news of the fuel price change on Tuesday, told him on Thursday morning when he went to work that he had increased the daily sales requirement from ‘100,000 to ‘130,000. He said things would be tougher for him to meet. His reservations were reechoed by many others. The ordinary Ghanaian is not spared the hardships associated with upward adjustments in petrol prices as a cross-section of them say the price increases would reduce their purchasing powers, as transportation alone would erode their salaries. Madam Anita Obeng, a trader at Makola, said transport fares would erode her profit because transportation is a major component in her business as she had to travel to and from Lagos and Lome for her wares. She called on government to reduce the tax component in the fuel prices. In the 2006 Budget Statement and Economic Policy of the Government, presented to Parliament in November last year, the government expressed its commitment to the pursuance of the deregulation process, with the key objective of ensuring uninterrupted supply of petroleum products throughout the country. ‘ Ghanaian Chronicle.

May 2006
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