Monday, October 18, 2021
Good afternoon distinguished ladies and gentlemen of the media. It is my singular honour to welcome you on behalf of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) to this press conference which is intended to address the high and unbearable cost of living that Ghanaians are experiencing under the watch of President Akufo-Addo and Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, which has largely been occasioned by steep increases in the prices of the Petroleum products over the last four and half years.
Please permit me to state from the word go that the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-NPP government has shown itself to be callous and does not appear a give a hoot about the plight of Ghanaians. Otherwise, what can be the justification for the rampant and persistent increases in fuel prices we are witnessing in Ghana today.
As you may be aware, Ghanaians have once again been slapped with another increase in pump prices of fuel by the insensitive and clueless Akufo-Addo/Bawumia administration. Only yesterday, the price of diesel and petrol was increased by 7%. This is the ninth consecutive time in the year 2021 alone that the prices of petroleum products have gone up. This has increased the price per gallon of diesel and petrol from about ¢21 as of January this year to about ¢31 currently.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, the rampant and persistent increase in the prices of fuel products we have witnessed under the watch of President Akufo-Addo and his deceptive Vice, Dr Bawumia, are a direct product of their insensitive and bad leadership.
The introduction of a raft of new draconian taxes on Petroleum products such as; the introduction of 20 pesewas Energy Sector Levy on every litre of diesel and petrol; the increase of 18 pesewas in ESLA per Kilogram of LPG; the introduction of a 10 pesewas sanitation (“borla”) tax on every litre of diesel and petrol; the introduction of a 1% COVID levy on NHIL & VAT, by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government, coupled with the free-fall of the Ghana Cedi which has been occasioned by their gross economic mismanagement, are the major factors responsible for the persistent and steep increase in the prices of fuel products.
The introduction of these regressive and draconian taxes by a group of people who berated the erstwhile Mahama regime for “over-taxing” Ghanaians and a group who promised to move Ghana from taxation to production when elected, smacks of deception and insensitivity of monumental proportions.
The cascading effect of these draconian tax measures, has among other things, led to an escalation in the prices of fuel products, transport fares, building materials, food products and other commodities on the market, without a commensurate increase in incomes, thereby making the cost of living unbearable for the vast majority of Ghanaians. This is the cause of the excruciating economic hardships Ghanaians are currently experiencing.
It will be recalled that a gallon of petrol and diesel was sold at about GHc16 in December 2016, when the NDC/Mahama administration was leaving office. The NPP-led by their then Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Danquah Akufo-Addo and Vice Presidential Candidate, Dr Bawumia, lambasted and berated President Mahama for this and promised to scrap some taxes on Petroleum products, particularly the Energy Sector Levies and the Special Petroleum Tax so as to significantly reduce the prices of fuel. I am sure you would recall how the NPP in their 2016 manifesto described ESLA as a nuisance tax and promised to scrap same when elected. Unfortunately, many Ghanaians fell for these lies and voted for the NPP. Little did they know that this and other similar sugar-coated promises of the NPP were pure sophistry.
Instead of scrapping the ESLA as promised, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-NPP government has collateralized it for a loan which has extended its intended duration from five years to now 15 years and increased it by over 20%. As if that was not enough, this government introduced a new Energy Sector Levy of 20 pesewas on every litre of diesel and petrol just this year. Additionally, they have introduced a sanitation (“borla”) tax of 10 pesewas on every litre of petrol and diesel.
As a result of this and other increases in existing taxes on fuel such as; the increase of the BOST Margin from 3 pesewas to 9 pesewas per litre representing an increase of 200%; the increase in the Fuel Marking Margin from 3 pesewas to 5 pesewas representing an increase of 67%; and the increase in the Road Fund Levy from 41 pesewas to 46 pesewas, a gallon of petrol and diesel which was sold at about GHc16.00 in December 2016 is today is selling at about ¢31. This is almost double the price they berated NDC/Mahama administration for.
It is therefore clear from the foregoing facts, that the high increase in the prices of fuel products we have experienced in recent time, is largely as a result of the many draconian taxes and tax increases this government has callously introduced on fuel. That is the major contributing factor.
Friends from the media, this astronomical increment in the prices of fuel commodities by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government and its concomitant effect on transport fares, have led to steep increases in general prices of goods and services thereby making life unbearable for the vast majority of Ghanaians.
A cursory look at the Construction industry, with a focus on the prices of building materials, reveals a very worrying trend that is of major concern to many Ghanaians. A 50kg bag of cement that was sold at ¢27.00 in the year 2016, is being sold at ¢52 and in some cases above this price today. A tonne of iron rods (16mm) that was sold at about ¢2,800 in 2016 is today going for ¢5,300, while a packet of aluminium roofing sheet that was sold at about ¢520 in 2016 is being sold at about ¢1,200 today. Similarly, PVC pipes (20mm) that used to sell at about ¢3 in 2016 is today being sold at ¢8 Electrical Cables (Cable metal – 16mm) that used to sell at ¢700 in 2016, is today selling at ¢1,553 while the 1.5mm Cable metal, which used to sell at ¢78 is today selling at ¢167.
Distinguished friends, the situation is even direr in the case of food products, where a bag of maize that used to sell at ¢170.00 in 2016, is today selling at ¢450, while a cup of Beans that used to sell at ¢1.50 is selling at ¢5.00 today. Also, an “Olankor” of Gari that used to sell at ¢5 in 2016 is today selling at ¢12, while a bucket of onion that used to sell at ¢15 in 2016 is selling at ¢40 currently.
Also, a bag of sachet water that used to sell at ¢1.50 in 2016 is today selling at ¢4 while a sack of “konkonte” that was sold at ¢200 in 2016 is being sold today at ¢600. Again, a pound of cow meat that was sold at ¢9 in 2016 is today being sold at ¢17 while one chicken (broiler) that used to sell at ¢35 is today selling at ¢70.
Additionally, a bottle of Frytol Oil that used to sell at GHc130.00 in 2016 is today selling at GHc285.00. Similarly, a crate of eggs that used to sell as at GHc12.00 in 2016 is today selling at GHc26.00, just to mention a few. This picture looks scary for many Ghanaian families and households, as it has become a constant struggle for many to afford three square meals a day.
The reality is that “kromAyeshe”! Times are very tough, the system is hard and pockets are dry. Car owners are suffering; Taxi drivers are suffering; “Trotro” drivers are suffering; “Trotro Mates” are suffering; Uber drivers are suffering; Bus drivers are suffering; passengers are suffering, And Ghanaians, in general, are suffering. Sadly, the state of economic hardships and hopelessness in the country keeps worsening by the day with no end in sight- all as a result of the insensitive policies and bad leadership of the deceptive Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-NPP government.
The question we would want to ask President Akufo-Addo and his “419” Vice President, Dr. Bawumia is; what has happened to their much-touted promise to move Ghana from taxation to production when elected? What has happened to their campaign rhetoric that Ghanaians were being over-taxed by the NDC/Mahama administration and their promise to develop Ghana through tax incentives?
It bears reminding ourselves that in the run-up to the 2016 general elections, these masters of political chicanery, President Akufo-Addo himself, ably assisted by his jocular “419” Vice, Dr Bawumia, told Ghanaians in the Akan language that: “Yete Sika nso ekom de y3”, to wit, Ghanaians were sitting on money, yet we were starving. Now, the question we ought to be asking is, where is the money they claimed we were sitting on?
You would further recall that in the run-up to the 2020 general elections, Dr. Bawumia and President Akufo-Addo asked the Ghanaian electorate to give them four (4) more years to do more for them? Is the imposition of draconian taxes on Ghanaians which has led to persistent increases in fuel prices what they meant by “4 more to do more”?
Today, Ghana’s economy is in shambles. Our national currency, the Ghana Cedi continues to depreciate at an alarming rate against all the major international currencies, while government continues to cook fictitious economic figures ostensibly to paint a different picture. The US dollar which was trading with the Cedi at about GHS4.00 to a dollar as at December 2016, is today trading with the Cedi at about GHS6.2 to a dollar. This situation continues to erode profit margins of businesses, particularly importers, and is one of the major factors which are contributing to the escalation of fuel prices and the prices of general goods on the market, most of which are imported. Yet, the Vice President and Head of the Economic Management Team, Dr. Bawumia who was once touted by the NPP as their economic messiah is no where to be found.
What is even sad in all this is that, instead of focusing on the stabilization of the national currency and the introduction of economic measures that can provide relief for our people, the government has chosen the lazy and callous option of shifting all the burden on Ghanaians in order to finance their luxurious and opulent lifestyle. In the midst of hardships and economic difficulties, President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia have chosen to live luxuriously like Arabian Kings, at the expense of the already-burdened Ghanaian taxpayer.
Ladies and gentlemen, there is no gainsaying the fact that the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-NPP government is the luckiest and most resourced government in Ghana’s history. They have borrowed more than any government in the history of Ghana and have had access to revenue from three (3) oil fields in addition to tax revenue of over GHS157 billion, which is almost double the tax revenue (GHc83 billion) that accrued to the NDC/Mahama administration. Yet, this government has next to nothing to show relative to developmental projects. Instead of investing in the productive sectors of the economy, they have virtually wasted all these resources on consumption-related expenditures, profligacy and corruption. Their misplaced priorities are the bane of the ailing Ghanaian economy and the main reason why Ghanaians are suffering in a manner never seen in the history of this country.
It is instructive to note, that in the midst of persistent fuel price increases and the ever-rising cost of living, financial allocations to the Office of Government Machinery have galloped from GHc79 million in the year 2017 to GHc823 million in the year 2021, representing a 937.73% rise. And what is this money being used for? Is it being used for productive projects and programs that can stimulate the economy, create jobs and improve the livelihoods of Ghanaians? The answer is a big No. Rather, all these monies are being applied mainly to financing the luxurious foreign travels of President Akufo-Addo in hyper-expensive private jets which sometimes cost the Ghanaian taxpayer as much as $20,000 US dollars per hour.
In the last three (3) months alone, the taxes of suffering Ghanaians worth over GHc10 million, equivalent to 100 billion old cedis have been wasted by this government on the renting of hyper-expensive private jets for President Akufo-Addo’s trips to Europe, the UK and the United States of America. This was after they wasted a whopping GHS64 million on similar trips of the Presidency in only nine (9) months in the year 2019. Sadly, this is happening at a time our state Presidential Jet, the Dassault Falcon 900 Ex which was bought by the Kuffuor administration at a price of $45 million is available and in pristine condition.
Ladies and gentlemen, imagine the developmental projects these monies could have been used for in the health sector, or the education sector or the roads sector, or the energy sector, among others, for the benefit of the people, if government had set its priorities right and shown a modicum of sensitivity to the plight of the suffering masses.
Even in the Energy Sector, the corrupt Akufo-Addo/Bawumia administration continue to plunder the assets of State Own Enterprises such as the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), BOST, GNPC among others. I’m sure you have heard about the brazen and unprecedented thievery that is going on at TOR currently, where 105,927 litres of Gas Oil, 18 drums of electrical cables and other valuable assets worth about GHc42 million (420 billion old Ghana cedis) have vanished into thin air. Yet, this corrupt and wasteful government continues to demand more revenue from suffering Ghanaians through the imposition of draconian taxes on the prices of fuel, with its ripple effects on cost of living, as I have amply demonstrated with indisputable facts.
Friends, it is the height of insensitivity and a monumental betrayal of the trust of Ghanaians for President Akufo-Addo and Dr. Bawumia who promised to protect the public purse, to turn around and engage in this obscene and unprecedented plunder of the public purse, while at the same time, inflicting severe hardships on Ghanaians. It is very offensive for the President, His Vice Dr. Bawumia and other government officials to continue to display such odious ostentation, particularly at this time that majority of Ghanaians are suffering and cannot make ends meet. And, it is about time we told them that we the people of this country are no longer willing to pay for their opulent lifestyles.
We in the NDC are not surprised that dishonest President Akufo-Addo and his deceptive Vice, Dr. Bawumia are being exposed time again for the many lies they rode on into power. This is because we have always known that even though a campaign of deceitful promises can bring one into power, their true character will always expose them in the fullness of time. Lies they say, have a short life span.
The NDC wishes to add its voice to the call by well-meaning Ghanaians for government to sit up and stabilize the Ghana Cedi through prudent economic management so as to stabilize fuel prices and the prices of imported products in general. More importantly, we wish to call on the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia/NPP government, to scrap some of the unnecessary taxes they have heaped on the price buildup of petroleum products so as to drastically reduce same.
We hold the view, that the two months suspension or zero-rating of the Stabilization and Recovery Levy of 14 pesewas and 16 pesewas per Litre of diesel and petrol respectively, is wholly-inadequate, insufficient and cannot bring about any significant reduction in the current prices of fuel products. In fact, given the fact that, the price of a gallon of diesel and petrol has increased by close to GHc10.00 in this year, 2021 alone, it is an insult to the sensibilities of suffering Ghanaians for government to offer to reduce the price of fuel by a paltry 63 pesewas, which is the net effect of the zero-rating of the Stabilization and Recovery Levy government has announced.
We therefore wish to call on the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia-NPP government to as a matter of urgency scrap:
1. the Special Petroleum Tax (SPT) of 46 pesewas on a litre of diesel and petrol. It will be recalled that the SPT was introduced by the erstwhile NDC/Mahama administration sometime in 2016 when crude oil export price fell far below government’s budgetary projections. The objective was to shore up government’s revenue for development purposes. But given the fact that crude oil export price has increased from below $40 to above $80 per barrel currently, far above the government’s budgetary projection of $54.75 per barrel, it is untenable for government to still maintain the SPT on the price of petroleum products now, and same should be scrapped immediately. This is particularly so, when government’s revenue from the oil sector for the second quarter of this year 2021, went up by almost 60%, equivalent to US$89.1 million, as compared to oil revenue for the same period in the previous year.
2. In the same vein, we call on government to scrap the newly introduced taxes on fuel products such as the Energy Sector Levies of 20 pesewas on a litre of diesel and petrol and
3. the new sanitation levy (“Borla” tax) of 10 pesewas on a litre of diesel and petrol, as same is totally needless and useless.
4. We also demand that the new increase of 18 pesewas on a kilogram of LPG must be scrapped.
5. And finally, we wish to call on government to consider the review of other existing taxes on fuel products in line with proposals submitted to the Ministry of Finance and Energy by the Chamber Of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) and other stakeholders in the downstream petroleum sector.
Distinguished friends from the media, these demands are not borne out of cheap politics or partisanship, but the realities we presently find ourselves in and are intended for the collective good and welfare of all Ghanaians.
We wish to remind President Akufo-Addo and Dr Bawumia to respect and uphold the sanctity of their political pact with the Ghanaian electorate. The Ghanaian people did not bargain for this level of tax burden on the prices of petroleum products in the 2020 December 7 Polls. Governance at all times must be about the advancement of the collective good and not the narrow interest of a select few. This government has become too removed from the stark realities of the Ghanaian people and it is about time they got back on track.
Ladies and gentlemen of the media, we project that if government listens to us and does as we have advised, the prices of diesel and petrol will come down drastically. This will stabilize the ever-rising prices of general goods and services and go a long way to ameliorate the plight of suffering Ghanaians. But should government fail to heed our wise counsel as they always do, prices of general goods and services will continue to soar, hardships in the country will continue to worsen to gargantuan levels and all of us, irrespective of our political affiliations, except the few privileged ones in government, will continue to suffer.
As you do know, the last quarter of the year usually presents an opportunity for many to turn around their economic fortunes as we prepare for the yuletide. However, given the persistent increases in fuel prices we are witnessing and the ever-skyrocketing prices of goods on the market, it looks like we are heading for the worst Christmas ever for the Ghanaian people. We cannot allow the hardships we are experiencing to continue. We demand that things are changed by government for the better, and that change must happen now!
Thank you for your attention.
National Communication Officer, NDC