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Our Llives Begin To End The Day We Become Silent About Things That Matter - Dr. Martin Luther King
 
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30-Dec-2011  
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Dr. Martin Luther King
 
 
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When politicians spurn objective comments and tag well-meaning Ghanaians who proffer independent and open comments about national issues, on politically partisan lines, they forget that there is nothing in this world which has never happened before.

In the end, when they are embroiled or enmeshed in situations they have long derided and are under attack, they look forward for support from such nationalists whose objective views they have already spurned.

One thing which has continually baffled me is the claim by governments that they subsidise petroleum prices. The last time the argument came up under the New Patriotic Party administration, notable energy experts within the National Democratic Congress said it was a hoax and that Ghanaians were paying for the full cost of fuel.

Following a recent High Court judgement that the government, through the National Petroleum Authority, had imposed an illegal and unauthorised levy on fuel products, there has been a renewed surge in government circles that if the illegal levies were to be withdrawn, the price of fuel could double.

As to how the suspension of an unauthorised levy could undermine fuel cost that dramatically, no rational explanation has been offered except the hysterical premonition about the possibility of the price doubling and the argument that the subsidy does not benefit the majority, but the few who have more than the means to pay for the full cost of fuel.

My amazement is that if indeed the fuel prices are subsidised, then why the tax and where do we place the tax in the price build up. Do governments mean that they are not fully taxing consumers or that inclusive of the tax, consumers pay less than the money used to import the product?

My beef is, if governments genuinely feel that the cost of fuel is unbearable, then it would be unreasonable to impose tax and then pay subsidy. It would then be better to remove the tax and allow the product to be sold to cover cost.

But, as it is now, it appears the Ministry of Energy and the National Petroleum Authority are stretching the issue beyond break point. While the NPA has indicated the desire to appeal against the judgement, as provided for by the law, it has rather created a mystery in suggesting that if the unauthorised levy is removed, the price of fuel will double. This does not make sense.

The point is, what is stopping the government in legitimising that levy, if it is essential for price stability, instead of resorting to illegitimacy? The alibi that the NPP introduced the levy is irrelevant since an illegality has nothing to do with who originated it, once it is so declared by a court of competent jurisdiction.

Already Ghanaians are paying the levy, albeit illegal. No one is forcing the government to pursue an irrational policy which benefits only a few as we are being told.

As a layman, my position is that governments cannot talk about subsidy for as long as fuel is heavily taxed. The Civil Service language of describing unreleased funds as surplus income at the end of the budget year should be discarded as it is unproductive.

Moving on, there has been this talk that when President Mills travels he does not take per diem. The dictionary defines per diem as daily allowance. The amount is given to any individual who travels outside. It is for the upkeep of that person and includes the cost of accommodation, meals and other expenses. However, because the levels are low, most public servants prefer abated per diem where accommodation and meals are paid for directly and a portion paid to the individual.

Thus, unless President Mills pays for his meals and accommodation from his own resources, he cannot be said to have declined to take per diem. It might be the portion of the abated per diem that he may be sacrificing.

Then there is the question of suspected cocaine turning into konkonte or bicarbonate. This dysfunctional development is not new. Mr K. B. Quantson was the National Security adviser under President Jerry John Rawlings. He has written a book in which he catalogues some of the evils afflicting our security agencies and mentions an experience under the General Ignatius Kutu Acheampong regime, where cocaine in the custody of the police turned into konkonte.

However, when a similar mishap occurred in the Kufuor era, some activists and functionaries of the NDC used it to lampoon the government and sprayed all those in government as cocaine people. It is thus difficult to accept that cocaine has turned into something else under the watch of President John Evans Atta Mills.

The reality though is that although those behind the dubious act were employed during the era of one government or the other, the conduct of such individuals or groups can never be said to have been sanctioned by the government of the day or the one during whose reign they were employed.

As a people and a nation, we have to realise how devious, destructive and powerful drug dealers have become and unite to fight the drug menace. If we segregate and give any drug arrest a partisan twist, we shall be overwhelmed, enmeshed and taken hostage by the drug barons. We do not need to spawn monsters who will grow to devour us. There will be no escape and we are all vulnerable.
 
 
 
Source: Yaw Boadu-Ayeboafo
 
 

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