Friday, February 4, 2011

Ghana- Of Fuel Prices and A Lay Man's Economics

Ghana, my country, is an interesting place to live. If you are a stranger, just turn on the radio in the morning and you will immediately realise one thing- an unhappy population and a really confused government. I don't know, perhaps it's only me that sees things differently, but our economists are really doing a disservice the populace.

A few years back, the previous government decided to end subsidies for fuel and pass the full cost to we the consumers. I have no problem with that. The foremost reason put forward for such a radical decision was the debt that was amassing at the state refinery. Sure that sounds reasonable right? No wrong. I do not agree that the state subsize fuel prices for people riding in their latest fuel guzzling cars. Far from that.

But I even dislike more, the nation passing on fuel prices to consumers without any measures in place to cushion the poor, being the majority of the populace. You know, I find it laughable when all these noise makers sit on radio and blurt out more nincompoopery in the name of "social commentating" or however they call it. Applying my high school economics knowledge to out current predicament tells me that for a government to pass on the full cost recovery of fuel to its populace, it must make sure it has reliable, highly efficient and affordable public transportation in place!

As to why none of the tin gods ruling us gets this I don't know. What I know is that if you have reliable public transportation run and subsidized by the government, those of us who do not have cars of our own are not left at the mercy of private transport operators who take every opportunity to exploit passengers. In doing so, the government indirectly subsidizes the fuel prices for the 'have-nots' and at the same time passing the rich who do not deserve any of that. 

It is atrocious to let me, a 'trotro' user pay the same fuel price with someone in the latest and most expensive Benz or BMW car. That is not inequality, that is a crime against humanity. I agree that the market forces of demand and supply be allowed to dictate fuel prices, but I do not agree that that should be the end of the case. Strong and adequate measures must be put in place to save poor people the harsh consequences of fuel price increments.

After 50 years of independent, is it really a crime to demand a reliable public transportation system from my country? Of course I've heard of that saying to the effect of not asking what my country can do for me, but does that include not asking for the basic necessities of life as well?

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