The Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has called for the government of Ghana to consider an efficient public transport system as it looks at proposals to scrap fuel subsidies.
There have been calls from Bulk Oil Distributors for government to scrap all subsidies on petroleum products.
Their calls follow government’s difficulty in paying off its indebtedness to the BDCs resulting in fuel shortage across the country.
Reputable agencies including ACEP, the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) and the Private Enterprises Foundation (PEF) are already backing the calls.
but Director of Policy and Research at ACEP, John Peter Amewu says even though he is for the scrapping of subsidies, there should be other social programs to cushion the citizenry.
He believes building an effective mass transport system will lessen the burden of the attendant fuel price increases.
He said “social programs are very important for the removal of subsidies and so if we are able to bring in a massive mass transportation system for instance, that cost of transportation for the private sector will of course reduce.”
He emphasized, “Transportation is so cheap with the mass transportation system and we can easily introduce that if we want to take away the fuel subsidy because that amount of subsidy that will be taken away can be used to build other roads, improve on education, build hospitals and make people’s lives better”
“Nothing stops Ghana as a country, from copying the sort of advanced transport systems in the OECD countries” he added.
John Peter Amewu, however stressed that the removal of subsidies alone will not constitute a lasting solution to fuel shortage.
He says until government deals with the falling value of the cedi, fuel shortages are bound to reoccur.
Mr. Amewu explained that the major problem the Bulk Distribution Companies (BDC) are facing is as a result of their high exposure to exchange rate differentials which “behooves the managers of the nation’s economy to arrest.”
Mr. Amewu also added that until the Ghanaian preference for high fuel consumption vehicles change, government’s interventions will yield little results.
“You travel across the country, and you see about a hundred SUVs lined up and out of these hundred vehicles, you see hundred people in them. One person per vehicle and this is uncalled for,” he bemoaned.
“The president travels from Accra to Ho with so many fleets of vehicles consuming Ghanaians tax payers money for nothing and the common trader at the road side, doesn’t even have kerosene to light a candle for her children to study during the night.”
He enquired, “We call ourselves a poor country and yet we will go in for the most expensive vehicles that consume so high?”
He wants the citizenry and all stakeholders to take up the personal responsibility to champion the course of fuel conservation to solve Ghana’s fuel challenges.