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Opinions Thu, 5 Jan 2012

Re: Govt’s decision to remove subsidies on fuel is prudent

I wish to submit this rejoinder in response to Dr. Joe Abbey’s comments on fuel pricing in Ghana published January 4, 2012.

I am very much impressed by your economic analysis of fuel pricing in Ghana, my learned friend. We all agree that the politics of fuel pricing in Ghana nearly brought Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) to its knees in recent times. Indeed, we cannot go on borrowing only to charge ourselves less. We could even be made to pay more when the price of the commodity went down on the international market, so a government could promote its communication strategy with a whopping US$6 million, but that did not divert resources from development – a very prudent analysis!

Dr. Abbey, when was the last time you bought fuel from your own salary at the pumps? The same question goes to those leading the political discourse who are bold to point out that subsidizing fuel divert needed financial resources from pressing development needs, assertion we all agreed with. Consider the situation where we all go to the same market, but those leading the political discourse for the increase continue to draw free fuel, free house, free medicare, free phone and, indeed, free everything now turn around to tell us to tighten our belts when they feed fat and loosen theirs.

You see, in functional democracies such as where I am writing from, “if Small businesses and families are tightening their belts, the government should, too," according to its foremost citizen when he moved to freeze the salaries of federal workers in 2010. Nigerians have already argued that due to massive corruption by the elite, the only benefit they get from government – across board – is fuel subsidies and we are all witnessing unfolding events in that country closely as result of the removal of fuel subsidies.

I do not think that the situation of the Ghanaian is any different and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) is spot-on in calling government to order. I hope your free fuel and that of others in leadership positions are withdrawn soon and the hypocrisy would stop.

In my university, the President of the University drives himself; many congressmen drive themselves; they receive salaries and buy their own cars based on their credit ratings. They buy fuel at the pumps and so on.

Please stop the hypocrisy and think of how much it cost the taxpayer to keep the free flow of public goods to people like you each day and what that cost is to development. I think we in Ghana, too, have a fine opportunity to look at these issues once again with the view to reviewing what benefits we offer to our leaders.

Prosper Yao Tsikata.

Columnist: Tsikata, Prosper Yao