The Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) has called on the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) to publish the price build up of all petroleum prices in the country.
That, it believes, is necessary to ensure transparency in the dealings of the NPA. The Executive Director of CEPA, Dr Joe Abbey, who made the call in a brief interview with the Daily Graphic, said, ï¿½For us at CEPA, for instance, we need to see the full price build up to be able to do effective analysis and be in a better stead to make the appropriate contributions to the debate on the matter.ï¿½
He said the NPA was a national institution and needed to be transparent in its dealings to allay the fears of the public as to how it operated. His call comes as the debate on the price build, with particular reference to the ex-refinery tax on petroleum products, rages on, with the ruling party and the biggest opposition party in the country at each otherï¿½s throat over the matter.
Meanwhile, the government is warning that fuel prices will soar if the NPA is forced to honour a recent court order abolishing the ex-refinery tax on petroleum products.
The court in Accra had, two weeks ago, ruled in favour of the NPP parliamentary candidate for Obuasi, Mr Kwaku Kwarteng, and others who challenged the legality of the ex-refinery differential tax imposed in June 2009.
The court directed the NPA to pay the accrued surplus, estimated at GHï¿½661 million, into the Consolidated Fund. But the government is hoping the court will grant its application for stay of execution pending an appeal against the ruling.
A statement issued by the Energy Ministry last week noted that if the court ruling was allowed to stand, the price of premix fuel, for example, would shoot up by over 100 per cent, while that of LPG would rise by 57 per cent.
It said kerosene price would see over 70 per cent increase, while that of petrol would rise by three per cent. A communications consultant at the Energy Ministry, Edward Bawa, had also told a radio station in Accra that the court erred in its decision.
According to the station, Mr Bawa maintained that the government would not allow any attempt to bring untold hardship on poor Ghanaians. Meanwhile, a source at the NPA have hinted the Daily Graphic that the ex-refinery differential was simply a stabilising margin that was used to subsidise the prices of LPG, kerosene, premix fuel and other products.
Giving a brief as to how the price build up was set, the source said it was set based on prices at a certain time, so that the pump price was based on a crude oil price of about $92 per barrel, which was the average price for the latter part of December 2010.
It said prices had now moved from $92 to an average of about $110, an indication that the consumer was buying at $92, while the NPA paid the supplier $110, adding that the ex-refinery differential, therefore, took care of that difference of $18 per barrel.
The source feared that any attempt to go by the court order would mean an immediate upward adjustment in fuel prices from four per cent to 140 per cent.
The reason was that it was a subsidy which, when removed, would automatically result in a price increase.
The source said to avoid a massive debt on the state, the NPA would have to pass on to the consumer the actual international price which the price build up is based on.
To the NPA, what is being described as a tax is actually a subsidy with which the NPA manages to keep some of the products on the market, such as kerosene and premix, very subsidised.
With the 2012 electioneering about to take off, it is expected that the issue will be used as a campaign tool, depending on which party the issues favour most.
But, for Dr Abbey, how the prices are built would be made clearer should the NPA publish the price build for the perusal of those who wanted to know.
Source: Daily Graphic
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