The Minority in Parliament has thrown its weight behind the protests in the capital against the persistent hikes in the prices of petroleum products. earlier on Wednesday
According to the Minority, the Special Petroleum Tax must be scrapped to ensure a reduction in the price of fuel.
Speaking in an interview with a section of the media on Wednesday, Minority spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Adams Mutawakilu said there is no justification for keeping that tax because “the purpose for its introduction is no more needed.
He said that tax was introduced in 2015 to boost government’s revenue from the oil sector because prices of oil dropped from $60 per barrel to $28 “per barrel which displaced government revenue.”
“As such, President Mahama and his government thought that they should introduce what they called the Special Petroleum Tax of 17.5% with the intention that when petroleum prices rise up to 60 and above, this tax will go off. Looking at the current situation, I think that the government is taking Ghanaians for granted. In our budget, they estimated $57 is what they expect to see in terms of revenue in the oil that we sell. Today it is $63.29 when I checked this morning. Now that is beyond the expected revenue. That means the government is making more revenue than expected in terms of our domestic oil,” Mutawakilu explained.
Mutawakilu, who is also the Member of Parliament for the Damongo Constituency in the Northern Region made the call following pressure from civil society organizations on the government to reduce prices of petroleum products.
Hundreds of commercial drivers and consumers of petroleum products took part in a demonstration organized by the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC) in collaboration with the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) in Accra.
The demonstration was to force the government to reduce taxes on petroleum products.
NPP gov’t taking Ghanaians for granted
Mutawakilu in the interview further accused government of taking Ghanaians for granted.
“ When circumstances are tough, Ghanaians will understand you but when circumstances are comfortable, please don’t overstretch Ghanaians. They were patient when petroleum prices were low…The Vice president, then running mate, said government was insensitive and that when they come they will take off the special petroleum tax. Today we cannot say prices are low, the prices have risen and therefore there is no reason or excuse leaving this special petroleum tax as revenue. There is no reason for it unless they have changed its objective,” he added.
Govt’s revenue structure will collapse if…
But the Chief Executive Officer of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), Hassan Tampuli, has insisted that government cannot scrap or review taxes on petroleum products downward any further.
According to him, the taxes have been incorporated into government’s revenue projections for the year and any attempt to scrap any of them could spell doom for the current revenue structure.
“You would agree with me that government has some obligations and these obligations are based on the projected revenue and the revenues that we have accrued. These revenues include the price stabilization and recovery levy. Now that lots of revenue for the government.”
“If you are saying that we should remove completely the Special Petroleum Tax, price stabilization levy among others, then you are just asking for the collapse of the revenue as far as government projects are concerned. What government is doing is in a way responding to the needs and concerns of the Ghanaian people by reducing the price figure by 3%,” he added.
By: Godwin Akweiteh Allotey/citifmonline.com/Ghana