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President Mahama, Fix TOR Or Sell It

Thu, 28 Aug 2014 Source: Baidoo, Philip Kobina

The hiking of crude oil prices during the Yom Kippur war dealt a devastating punch to the global economy. For Ghana, it was fatal. The rest of the world, especially the industrial west, recovered and passed on the cost, and absorbed the rest through efficiency. From then on, all the people that matter in the management of the various national economies realised the importance of the black gold. And of course, the producers also became aware of their power. Since then, the geopolitical doctrines of the major world players have never been the same. Every wind that blows in the Middle East leaves wreckage strewn across the globe. In certain places, particularly in Africa, the devastation is measured in lives.

That 1973 world changing event, led the socialist instincts of Acheampong and his SMC I government to acquire all the shares of the only refinery in the country from the Italian parent company. The idea was that it could best be managed in the hands of the government rather than the private corporate bodies that are just in business to make obscene profit. Also, it was meant to keep prices within the reach of the ordinary Ghanaian. In the midst of the frantic scramble for a viable solution to the wobbling oil applecart ‘kalabule’ reached its zenith. Produce buying division clerks of the cocobod became law unto themselves. Their chicanery became an art; it could not be matched by even those at the top. Cocoa production sunk to the bottom. It was the beginning of the end; Ghana began limping on into the future like a wounded animal.

Around the same time, China abandoned communism after the death of Chairman Mao in 1976. Over a decade later, India also jettisoned socialism in the early nineties. As a result, the economies of these two most populous countries in the world began to make giant strides. The benefits of the economic boom in those two countries caused an increase in their energy consumption, and the demand for crude oil soared. It added further turbulence to the already unpredictable dangerous oil market.

In addition, as the population of the world continue to grow, even a toddler knows the knife edge it sits regarding its availability. Due to its indispensability, the custodians of its reserves have become professional blackmailers. No doubt, the rest of the world is just a pawn in the global energy game. Therefore, having a refinery is just a little effort to have a grip on the slippery crude oil industry.

Acheampong’s mistake, not only destroyed the future economic prospect of the country, but also benefited immensely the most successful politician in the annals of Ghanaian political history. Of course, Kufuor also came to benefit. The next in line to enjoy the delicious gravy train was Mills, but providence had other plans. Mahama, who never dreamt of ascending to the presidency, benefited massively to propel him to power in his own right.

A lot of Ghanaian electorates think that our politicians are not smart; they are incredibly brilliant. It is just that they are cruel. Whenever the prices of crude oil creep up, instead of them to pass on the cost to the consumer, they only think about the political implications of the price increment. They, therefore, absorb the cost with the resources that should go to construct roads, schools, pay school teacher and nurses and many more. In effect, we pay a high price for the political aspirations of our leaders. And our intellectuals unwittingly back them on this perfidy. The real cost is the destitution and the helplessness you see all over the place.

Currently, the billion dollar question that all Ghanaians will have to ask President Mahama and his NDC government is this: why do we have a refinery sitting like a white elephant while we import finished petroleum products from abroad. Well, they will not answer you; however, I am compelled to fill in the blanks for my countrymen.

After the scandal of GYEEDA, SUBA, etc. broke out, their conduit to siphon off funds to finance their party dried out so they had to find an alternative. The only option they laid their hands on was the retail of imported finished petroleum products. It is so lucrative they never stop to think about the lethal effect it is having on the economy.

Why do people cry so much about the fact that we do not add value to our cocoa, gold, manganese and all the various raw materials we export? When you import finished goods they only employment that comes to the country are drivers and labourers that transport them to the warehouses besides the retailers who will finally sell it to the consumers. On the other hand, let’s take a raw material like crude oil when it goes through the refinery process. For one, even the by-products alone, the liquefied gas, the bitumen, paraffin wax, lubricants etc. add multiple vistas to our economy prospects. The process of adding value takes knowledge in form of trained scientist, hundreds of skilled and unskilled labour, which all converts into dollars. We are now paying for expertise and labour that we can provide ourselves to outsiders and enriching other economies. Let me put it in simple language. The price of crude oil on the world market is around $107. However, when we buy it processed we pay twice the price. This is the ignorance that is driving us into the arms of the IMF. Oh no, my mistake, it is the cruelty of Mahama that is boxing us into the shackles of the IMF.

These people are sadistic monsters. They cannot tell me they don’t see the connection between the importation of finished petroleum products and the depreciation of the currency, besides other factors. They don’t care so long as their campaign coffers fill up, in addition to their kickbacks as a side issue, Ghanaians can go to hell.

Now, they have secured a loan to resuscitate a long dead sugar factory that does not have any serious impact on the economy. What I am driving at is, Ghanaians can survive without sugar, but can we survive without oil. So the question is: why will he not secure a loan to get Tema refinery fixed? The answer is they are benefiting massively from the status quo so any changes will have a serious dent in their finances and their ability to bribe the blind electorates who are happy to have one printed NDC t-shirt come every four years. Where do we place our priorities? Is this the sort of decisions we voted him to take? And you can’t believe this; his useless lieutenants are hailing that worthless gesture as comparable to Nkrumah’s visionary leadership.

Don’t be fooled by the ridiculous reasons they are offering as the cause of the cedi’s depreciation. Yes, gold and cocoa prices are coming down, but its effect should be neutralised by the revenue from oil. The only long term approach instead of the chew and pour cosmetic economic solutions they are offering is to fix TOR or sell it.

Philip Kobina Baidoo Jnr London baidoo_philip@yahoo.co.uk

Columnist: Baidoo, Philip Kobina