The Trades Union Congress (TUC) is asking government to scrap the taxes driving up the price of petroleum products. The umbrella labour body reminded government that it promised to abolish the taxes during its 2016 electioneering campaign.
The price of crude oil has shot up from US$45 per barrel in 2016 to almost US$70 in 2018. Additionally, the local currency is struggling against the US dollar – and as the TUC has noted, the rising fuel prices have adverse implications for the cost of living.
Petrol now sells at GH¢5.12 per litre at the pumps, up from some GH¢4.20 per litre at beginning of the year; and this has led to increases in transport fares. Business people, transport operators, passengers, market women have been complaining about the rising cost of living due to the sliding cedi.
Accordingly, the Ghana Federation of Labour is threatening to demonstrate if government fails to heed to calls for a reduction in the taxes.
We are in a precarious situation, and even President Nana Akufo-Addo – before emplaning to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly – also conceded that times are tough, though he was emphatic that it is however short of a crisis situation.
That means that the dual effect of the local currency losing value to the US dollar combined with the increase in price of crude on the world market is having a telling effect on the nation – which only goes to emphasise the fact that our economy is not as resilient as government would have us believe.
The economy’s volatility is what needs urgent attention, and managers of the economy need to put on their thinking-caps and find a way to improve it – such that world market price changes do not expose our economy’s vulnerability.
In fact, the 40-year National Development Plan that we have somehow jettisoned had considered this problem and put a roadmap in place to address it.
Former Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, has said the cedi wouldn’t be struggling against major currencies like the dollar if the Akufo-Addo government had implemented the 40-year development plan.
The NDPC, under the chairmanship of economist Kwesi Botchwey, within a period of two years put together a long-term National Development Plan for the country that was to span a period of 40 years. Are we really saying nothing of worth can be found in that document?
Let us endeavour to borrow useful lessons from past administrations and disregard partisan leanings when it comes to the national good.