Joseph Ade Coker, the Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), has cautioned Ghanaians not to politicize possible fuel price increments, warning that such a move could be detrimental to the country’s economy.
He stated that the practice of justifying or condemning the increase in petroleum prices through "political binoculars" should not countenanced.
Mr Ade Coker was reacting to the possible removal of government subsidies on petroleum products by the end of the month, which could mean an increment in fuel prices.
If government goes ahead with its decision, fuel prices are likely to increase by 10 to 30 percent, a possibility that has been vehemently opposed by consumers, who will bear the cost of the price hike.
On Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme Monday, Mr Ade Coker explained that government cannot be faulted for the potential jump in fuel prices because the increment would follow a global trend.
According to him, even the United States and other global super powers have increased their fuel prices in response to crude oil’s soaring market value, so the Ghanaian government should not be blamed for following suit.
Mr Ade Coker added that oil has become a powerful political tool over which hapless nations such as Ghana have no control and that the Mamaha-led administration should be commended for stabilizing the prices of petroleum products.
The NDC Greater Accra chairman called on political parties, especially the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), not to capitalize on the situation to discredit the NDC government.
He also urged government to reach a consensus with all stakeholders before removing subsidies on petroleum products.
In a rebuttal, NPP Director of Communications Nana Akomea said that Ade Coker’s comments smacked of hypocrisy and were riddled with double standards.
He recalled how in the run-up to the 2008 general elections the ruling party made the issue of petroleum prices the bedrock of their campaign, with then-candidate John Mills promising to reduce fuel prices "drastically" if voted to power.
Mr Akomea said Ghanaians should heap blame on government if they increase fuel prices on the grounds that the NDC politicized the oil prices while in opposition.
However, he also conceded that the use of fuel prices as a "political weapon" must be discouraged.