Ghana's Ruling Party Faces Opposition Over Gas Prices
A recent boost in gas prices across Ghana is generating unprecedented criticism from members of the ruling New Patriotic Party, with some fearing that the party could lose the next general elections as a result.
Last week's 10 to 22 percent price boost on petroleum products is the third increase this year, raising premium gas prices to an all time high of close to $5 per gallon, about three times higher than the minimum wage of many Ghanaians.
Previous price reviews by the state owned regulatory body, the National Petroleum Authority, attracted strong criticism and street protests by members of parliament, who have consistently urged the government to remove taxes on petroleum products.
But this time round, it is the members of the ruling New Patriotic Party, or NPP, who are calling on their government to ease the burden of the price increase.
Member of parliament Paul Appiah-Ofori blames corruption for the recent gas price debacle.  He calls for an immediate investigation into the operations of the country's bulk oil supplier, Tema Oil Refinery.
"What I expect to be done at the Tema Oil refinery is for the government to set up a committee to go into the operations of the company to identify and eliminate the abnormal one," he said.  "Because the abnormal cost results from inefficiencies, it results from corrupt practices, embezzlement of funds, misappropriation, all sorts of improprieties constitute cost and they are pass on to the consumers through total cost absorption."
Appiah-Ofori says higher prices are causing hardship and urges the government to adopt prudent management of the economy to generate revenue from other sources.
"Unless we plug loopholes, unless we prevent corruption, unless you prevent avoidable cost, I assure you that this country will fail, no government can save this country where corrupt practices move from strength to strength.  It is most unfortunate," he said.
Previous appeals to President John Kufuor's government to reduce taxes on gas prices have been ignored.  The government maintains that domestic prices are being pushed up because of price pressures from the global market.
Appiah-Ofori says he would consider using the courts to get the government to listen.
"Yes, if it goes on like this, maybe I will be compelled to go to court in order to compel the president to listen, because you see, Article 1, Clause (1) of our Constitution states that the sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana, in whose name and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised," he said.
According to some analysts, more than 40 percent of the price of gas in Ghana is contributed to tax.
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