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Weak oil marketing companies come under fire   
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Mr Fiifi Kwetey, a Deputy Minister of Finance, on Tuesday said only viable and efficient oil marketing companies (OMCs) would be allowed to operate and serve the country.

He said there was the need to bring sanity into the oil business and there were possibilities of engaging technically and financially viable companies in the oil business to improve oil delivery.

The Deputy Minister was responding to a question in Parliament on the recent causes of fuel shortages and actions being taken to forestall future occurrences.

He said the recent shortages should be placed at the doorsteps of OMCs that were indebted to Tema Oil Refinery (TOR) which caused TOR to run into liquidity problems.

Mr Kwetey said the OMCs had a business relationship with TOR and the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation Limited (BOST) but these companies had failed to honour their debts to the two organisations.

He said that the liquidity problems of TOR had led to these OMCs being cut off from oil supplies until they had paid up, which led to the recent shortages of fuel in the country.

Mr Kwetey said the National Petroleum Authority had been directed to streamline operations of the OMCs and weed out those that were not viable.

In response to another question, Mr Kwetey said government had paid cocoa farmers the world market price for their cocoa.

He was responding to a question on when these farmers would be paid at least 70 per cent of the world market price of cocoa in view of the sharp depreciation of the cedi against the US dollars and the recent rise in the price of cocoa on the world market.

In a related development, Dr Benjamin Kumbuor, nominated as Minister of Health, told the House that 25,000 pieces of anti-snake serum had been ordered and would be made available once funds were released for their purchase.

He said already some quantity of the serum had been distributed to areas with high incidence of snake bites such as the northern, western and central regions.

Dr Kumbuor was responding to a question on efforts being made to ensure that anti-snake serum was available and affordable in the Northern Region and in particular in the Zabzugu/Tatale constituency where several people have died recently from snake bites.

He said Ghana was the only country in the sub-region where the anti-snake serum was given free of charge.

Dr Kumbuor said a multi-sectoral approach was needed to deal with the issue of snake bite since various key factors such as ambulance services, efficient energy supplies for storage of the serum and good road network were needed to send victims of snake bites to the health facility for care.

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