Fuel smuggling swallowed GHC4bn; reverse ‘insensitive, ill-timed’ fuel tax hike – COPEC
COPEC-Ghana has called on the government to reverse the recent hike in fuel taxes.
Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta announced an increase in fuel taxes when he presented the 2019 mid-year budget review to parliament.
Some leading Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) across the country have increased pump prices effective Sunday, 1 September 2019 from GHS 5.19/litre to GHS 5.39/litre, representing a 3.7% jump.
In a statement released on Monday, 2 September 2019 and signed by the Executive Secretary of COPEC, Mr Duncun Amoah, the group appealed to the government “to be sensitive to the plight of the Ghanaian, especially drivers and all other petroleum users, as most are already complaining gravely about the already-high fuel prices across pumps.”
According to COPEC, it is “our considered view that the revenue the government so desires to raise for which it is further increasing fuel taxes and by extension the hardships on Ghanaians can easily be realised from the blocking of all the needless avenues being employed currently by the fuel smuggling syndicate.
COEPEC said: “Fuel smuggling accounts for over 17% of all fuel sold within the country currently, and what this implies is that the government loses close to 1/5 of all petroleum taxes and revenues as may be due it to this fuel smuggling cartel.”
It continued: “Ghana is known to have lost in excess of over GHS 4 billion over the last 3 years [to fuel smuggling], thus, rendering the argument of the government seeking to rake in some GHS 400 million for the remainder of 2019 and GHS 1.4 billion for the whole of 2020 with the increase in taxes completely unjustifiable.”
COPEC said while “pump prices in Ghana continue to be higher than most countries across the sub-region, the attendant problems fuel price increases bring, cannot be overstated, aside from the general hardships and economic downturns such increases portend to everything and everyone within the country”.
In COPEC’s view, the tax hike is “ill-timed, ill-advised and completely insensitive”, as, it said: “Its repercussion on the country and the people will far outweigh any benefits anticipated thereof from these needless increases.”
The statement added that COPEC is “hereby demanding, without delay, an immediate reversal and withdrawal of this recent hikes in order to make way for further dialogue on the current fuel price build-up with the view to reversing the recent unfortunate trend of persistent increases, as it is serving no good aside from putting lives and businesses across the country on the edge.”