Feb. 13, 2018
When people who want power blame those wielding it over a world commodity price that they hold no control over, then it defeats common sense. Sometimes, politics make us blame people for society’s financial ills even when the reality is so glaring.
Both the government in power and the minority have played fuel price politics for some years now. When in power, the problem is placed at the door step of world market prices increase but when in opposition, it becomes the fault of the government of the day.
The Vice – President, Dr Mahamud Bawumia, in opposition was quoted in 2015 saying, ex – Prez John Mahama ‘has no sympathy for Ghanaians over fuel price hikes.’
Bawumia said, “When oil was $147 a barrel, during the NPP era, at that time the NPP had petrol prices at GH4.50 per gallon. But what did the NDC say?”
“They said it was too high and went on demonstration with the CJA and said they are a social Democratic Party thus, when they come to power they will reduce it drastically. Now fuel price is $59 a barrel and you have increased the price from GH4.50 to about GH15 per gallon.”
It is now evident that the recent unstoppable surge in fuel prices means playing politics with fuel prices is just to touch the financial emotions of the masses to gain power. There is nothing any government in power can do to appease the masses with cheaper fuel prices
This is the reason last week’s protest, through the principal streets of Accra against the persistent increase in petroleum products in the country by the Chamber of Petroleum Consumer (COPEC) and Commercial Workers Union (ICU), was nothing new to many.
These groups for years, have been hoping to experience the promise of government selling fuel at low prices for them to make gains. However, their hope seems to be an illusion from time immemorial.
Politicians have to refrain from politicizing fuel prices to gain public support because the conditions of the International Monetary (IMF) credit facility discourage fuel subsidy.
Perhaps, it was wrong for the current government to have used fuel price increase to fight the NDC in opposition.
In opposition, the current government made it all look like every fuel price increase was the fault of the old government. Meanwhile, the old government went for deregulation coupled with the fuel subsidy elimination introduced by the IMF.
The IMF argues that fuel subsidy favors the rich more than the poor. It explains that the upper class is capable of purchasing more fuel than the lower class hence, when fuel is subsidized, the rich will consume more of the fuel while paying the same rate as the poor
Sadly, this notion by the IMF is so unwise in our part of the world. Are taxi drivers who to drive through town for hours to get passengers on the same level as the rich? In Africa, not everyone who owns a vehicle is rich. Sometimes it is for convenience and easy movement to work and not a display of opulence
Every region in this world has its unique economy, therefore, this theory of whoever owns a vehicle is rich enough to afford fuel any cost is ‘bogus.’ In our world, every increase in the price of fuel pushes up cost of food products.
The increase in food stuffs renders inflation figures ‘useless.’ How do you explain to an average person on the street of Accra that inflation, which hit over 18 percent in 2016 is now below 12 percent when the prices of food stuffs have sky rocketed instead of lowering it?
There is no logic in celebrating over lower inflation figures when prices of stuff keep moving up. Rise in fuel prices affect every commodity on the market since, transportation cost increases for the traders.
Politicians have to know that what they say in opposition about fuel price increase during campaigns are a fraction of the reasons fuel prices keep going up. There are too many reasons and factors that influences fuel prices which they have no control over
Indeed, politicizing every issue can come back to haunt us, especially when we know the said government has no total control over it.