Some other perspectives on the cost of living crisis
It appears that a consensus is being reached that although external developments and governmental policies may be chiefly to blame, a lot of the hardship in Ghana is also due to the greed of some traders and businesses – which has ripple effects.
Yet Ghana is always described as a deeply religious country.
Who would have thought that so many of the fuel companies are cheats – as highlighted earlier this week by the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA)?
According to the CPA, in Accra alone, 57 oil marketing companies (OMCs) have adjusted their fuel pumps “to cheat unsuspecting” customers.
An alert from the Agency on December 6, “advised Ghanaians to insist on buying fuel in litres”, not cedis. Referring to recent revelations by the Ghana Standards Authority that some OMCs are cheating unsuspecting customers, a CPA release explained that those fuel stations alter the cedi meter of the pump, but not the litre meter, because it’s the litre section used to calculate the amount of fuel sold.
Of course stories and rumours of fuel station cheating are not new. But perhaps now the cheating has reached new, high-tech levels.
Official figures state that of the current Ghana population of more than 32 million, Christians form 71+ percent and Muslims 19+ percent. The belief is that religious people are God-fearing and live honest, exemplary lives. Furthermore, even the traditional religions believe in fairness and honesty.
So then who are the people behind all the cost of living (COL) problems, the ever spiralling prices increasing the hardship?
It’s always easy to cite the Government, President Nana Akufo-Addo or Finance Minister Mr Ken Ofori-Atta as those responsible for all the country’s economic woes, but what about the people taking undue advantage of the present challenges to inflate prices?
A story making the rounds tells of excessive, even obscene, profiteering by a rice trader. She sold a bag of rice for GHȼ750, although the agent who imported the rice with dollars had reportedly sold the consignment to her at GHȼ350 a bag.
Naturally, those who buy her rice for commercial purposes, would mark up their prices! Thus it continues, the proverbial vicious circle; the ripple effect impacting on other goods and services.
An engaging social media video shows a man in a tirade against banku sellers. Evidently a very ‘liberated man’, sporting short Rasta braids, he is busy cooking a pot of banku on a coal-pot, his feet expertly gripping the banku irons hooked to the pot for balance.
He explains his fury: the previous day, he had to pay four cedis for a small ball of banku, although the whole pot of banku he is now preparing came to only about seven cedis!
“So even if the price of everything has to go up, should that include corn foods?!
“If we say someone is a thief, it doesn’t refer to only armed robbers or pickpocket. Excessive profiteering, too, is thievery! Yet on Sundays the churches are full! And you will find seated there, the banku seller; also oil, onions, tomato sellers and meat sellers. They will all be there!
“Every time we’re blaming the Government; that things are hard in the country. But we’re all to blame!”
The views of some unidentified Ghanaians in the US posted online, are even more scathing.
A MAN’S VOICE
“The COL crisis is a global phenomenon. Come and see how expensive things have become over here!
“However, here they’re not blaming their government. But in Ghana because some people want to win power, they have brainwashed Ghanaians to blame somebody, that it’s Nana Akufo-Addo’s fault. See the difference?
“How people are suffering here you have no idea! Many Ghanaians have been evicted from their apartments and are living in their cars!
“It’s not Akufo-Addo who is increasing petrol prices! Here, too, it’s like that. Every day fuel prices go up. The Ghana Government only adds taxes, and taxes are what the government uses to pay the salaries of teachers, police, soldiers. You can’t run a country without taxes!
“There are many Ghanaians here who want to return home, but simply can’t afford the fare. I tell you that if a plane were to land here in America to take people back to Ghana free of charge, it would be full in less than two minutes!
“And demonstrators are asking God to ‘kill Akufo-Addo for us’!
“We are our own worst enemies! You think that if Akufo-Addo were to die today all Ghana’s problems would vanish?”
A WOMAN’S VOICE
A video shows stocked store shelves, with a voice-over by a woman:
Translation: “Those of you who are insisting that Akufo-Addo should be ousted from office because life in Ghana has become too expensive, well, here in America, this cooking oil was 17 dollars, but it’s now jumped to 43 dollars. This rice was 9.99; then it went to 11; now it’s 20.99.
“This sanitary pad used to cost seven dollars; now it’s selling for 16 dollars.
“So after you have booted out Akufo-Addo, come over to America and get rid of President Joe Biden for us. We beg you; we need you here in America. Joe Biden is in your hands!”
The following abridged news item, from the Vanguard newspaper of Nigeria on December 5, speaks for itself:
“Fuel scarcity wahala! Parents now send wards to school twice a week
“Many parents have resorted to allowing their wards attend schools only twice or, at most, thrice a week.
“Even on those days, the kids end up late to school because a good number of the buses are parked in long queues at filling stations.
Mrs. Oluchi Agbasi, a secondary school teacher in one of Lagos public schools said:
“Some of the students have been absent for close to three weeks,” the Vanguard reported.
Here in Ghana, why has it become almost like a national sport to take advantage of the universal crisis to cheat fellow Ghanaians?
How about some fellow feeling, some demonstration of the Christian or Muslim principles of charity, honesty and compassion by those dealing in goods or services?
It’s about time people started practising their vaunted religious credentials, notably through fairness and humaneness.