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Petroleum price build-up debate: Transport, chemical unions call for removal of taxes on fuel

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Transport fares are up by 20% PIX: Daily Graphic
Transport fares are up by 20% PIX: Daily Graphic

The debate about the removal of some taxes on the petroleum price build up in the country continues to rage.

With the prices of crude oil on the international market rising almost every other day, the impact is being felt heavily on the general cost of living as a result of rising inflation.

While the government holds the view that the removal of taxes will cost the country some Gh¢4 billion annually, experts and other notable groups hold a different view.

With the government holding on to its position, the threats have started coming to force the hand of the government to think otherwise.

The last to threaten is the General Transport, Petroleum and Chemical Workers' Union (GTPCWU) of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) which has called on the government to remove some taxes on petroleum products.

It said failure to do so would result in further increases in the coming days with its attendant increase in the economic hardship on Ghanaians.

“If government fails to remove taxes on the petroleum price build-up in these trying times, the operators will have no option than to increase the fares,” the Deputy General Secretary of the GTPCWU, Francis Salla, said in an interview on May 12, 2022.

The call comes at a time when the two major transport unions, Ghana Road Transport Coordinating Council (GRTCC) and the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) have engaged in a media brawl over which owns the right to increase fares.

While the GRTCC wants Ghanaians to disregard a 20 per cent increment in transport fares, some commercial drivers at some bus terminals are already charging 20 per cent more on transport fares ahead of the expected increment in transport fares.

The GRTCC in a statement indicated that transport fares are always negotiated for and on behalf of all operators by GRTCC and the GPRTU.

“We want to reiterate that the GRTCC and the GPRTU have not divorced from standing protocols for fare increases. It is, therefore, unjustified for any group of persons to stampede the process to announce fare increase without reference to the standing protocols.”

“We wish to advise the public to disregard any increase and the drivers to desist from charging any new fare, as we continue with the discussion on the appropriate adjustment which will be signed by the representatives of the GRTCC and the GPRTU and communicate same to you,” the statement signed by the General Secretary of the GRTCC, Emmanuel Ohene-Yeboah, said.


Concerns

Explaining the factors at play, Mr Salla said although the different transport unions had their heads, the leadership was hardly involved in how they procured their buses and other spare parts.

Secondly, he noted that fuel prices increased every fortnight which went to affect prices of spare parts.

“The road sector is not improving that much. If the government was to take off the taxes at this very trying times to help minimise the effect, it would have minimised the hardships we are all going through,” he said.

He said it was unfair for another union to tell the public to ignore the increase in transport fares at this stage.

“It is highly unfair. Vehicle owners too are bearing the brunt. A car battery that sold between GH¢450 and GH¢500 is now selling at GH¢900 to GH¢1000. So, if I am using that vehicle for commercial transportation and you ask me not to increase fares at this stage is highly unfair,” he said.

Mr Salla said the GTPCWU was involved in organising the formal sector such as transport workers in Metro Mass (MM), State Transport Company (STC), and other private formal companies.

He said the GPRTU and GRTCC were in the informal sector.

However, he said the increases in fuel prices was affecting the operations of their member organisations.

Consequently, negotiations for increase in salaries have not been successful in the last four years.

“They are suffering. They are also citizens. So, the effect of fuel increases and inflation at 23 per cent highly fuelled by transport and fuel prices is going to have effect on all of us,” he said.