The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called on government to address the rising prices of fuel, which is having huge adverse implications for cost of living on Ghanaians.
It urged government to scrap some of the taxes and fees on fuel prices to cushion Ghanaians and must look into the various margins and their impact on fuel pricing.
“At current levels, fuel prices have reached an unsustainable peak for Ghanaian workers and their families. As workers, we can no longer afford any further increases and government must do everything it can to halt further increases.”
The call was made in a statement signed by Mr Joshua Ansah, the Acting Secretary General of the Trade Union Congress (Ghana), and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Monday.
It said government must absorb some of the exchange rate loses instead of passing everything to the poor workers and their families, in this way, government must consider subsidising in the interim as it works to stabilise the exchange rate in the medium to long-term.
The statement urged the Government to reconsider the deregulation policy, the practice where fuel prices are reviewed upwards every two weeks, which has insidious effects not only on prices of other goods and services but also on the psyche of the people.
“Also, the deregulation process does not appear transparent to us. The guidelines for deregulation require urgent review in the interest of transparency and fairness particularly to consumers,” it said.
The statement said TUC had followed with keen interest developments in fuel pricing over the last one year and eighteen months since the New Patriotic Party assumed the reigns of government.
“In its manifesto for election 2016, the NPP had promised Ghanaians a reduction in fuel prices. This was to be achieved through abolishing of some of the taxes in the petroleum price build up and a competent management of the economy such that exchange rate losses will not translate into higher fuel prices.
“After more than 18 months in government, fuel prices have gone up by an average of more than 25 percent. Between January 2017 and now, fuel prices have been adjusted upwards on 16 different occasions.
“This was not what Ghanaians were promised. In this same period the minimum wage has gone by 20 percent. The Base Pay on the Single Spine Salary Structure, from which most public sector workers are paid, has also increased by about 24 percent.
“Given that fuel increases tend to have very noisy rippling effect on general price levels, the frequent upward adjustments as experienced in the last few months has considerably eroded incomes and worsened the plight of Ghanaian workers and their families,” it said.
The statement said despite the promise to abolish taxes, the Price Build-Up remains saturated with taxes and fees and the current fuel price being paid by Ghanaians contained some 10 different taxes, levies and margins.
It said together these taxes, levies and margins constituted more than one third of the current fuel price and that the Special Petroleum Tax alone makes up 30 percent of all the taxes, levies and margins on fuel.
“In addition to the taxes, the rising fuel prices have been occasioned by the continuous depreciation of the Ghana Cedis against the US Dollar,” it said.
The statement said in January 2017, the Cedi exchange rate was GHC4.20 to the Dollar and today, the exchange rate is nearly GHC5.00 to the Dollar and that the exchange rate losses have been translated “one-for-one to the rising fuel prices,” saying that, given the dominance of the exchange rate in the determination of fuel prices, further loses would only go to increase fuel price for Ghanaians.
“Again, this was not what Ghanaians were promised. The NPP had promised to stabilise the exchange rate of the cedi, something, which could have helped stabilise fuel prices. Most surprisingly the NPP government has chosen to fully pass the exchange losses onto Ghanaians in the form of higher and rising fuel prices,” it said.
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