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Brace for tougher times as transport fares set to go up

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Drivers to increase transport fares

With the increasing cost of living and consistent dwindling of consumers’ purchasing power, incomes of many citizens can only buy less of their usual consumption basket – a situation of the poor getting poorer in real terms, and the middle-class getting thinned out.

With the implementation of new and amended taxes kicking in a few days ago – on May 1 which coincidentally was Workers’ Day – and immediately reflecting in telcos’ charges and fuel prices, the atmosphere across the country is charged.

The Ministry of Energy announced an eight pesewas per litre reduction in petroleum products; reducing the originally announced increase of 17 pesewas to 9 pesewas taking effect from yesterday; but that still is not calming down nerves.

Players in the transport sector have already stated that an increase in fares by at least 20 percent is imminent, with stress on the fact that the reduction by the ministry is insignificant. The Ghana Private Road and Transport Union (GPRTU), Progressive Transport Owners’ Association (PROTOA) and Concerned Drivers Association have said that they are preparing to finalise talks with the Ministry of Transport and announce the new fares.

This, coupled with the already high cost of living due to the effects of COVID-19 on the global supply chain, has pushed many Ghanaians to brace themselves for tougher economic times.

Speaking to the B&FT, Stephen Asare, a banker working at the central business district in Accra said: “We are really not in normal times. The economy for me as a middle-class Ghanaian is becoming more difficult by the day. School just vacated for two weeks and already I have to sort out school fees. With that not settled, I have to increase my budget for fuel and the transportation of my kid to and from school. I simply need to do magic with my salary to survive”.

Afia Oyerebia, a petty trader at the central business district, also told the paper: “I am planning to do some bulk-buying soon; because in the next five days, prices of goods will go up astronomically with the impending increase of transport fares. At least the goods are close to me, so I need to take advantage”.

Sampson Dwumor, a teacher who was shopping at the central business district of Accra said: “I have realised that since the advent of COVID-19 prices went up, and any time you complain the traders attribute it to COVID-19. They say the shipping of goods and prices of the goods overseas have escalated, so they have to increase the price. I can only imagine what they will say from next week if transport fares go up. We are living in some hard times”.

Comfort Nai, a civil servant also said: “Government is yet to determine the wage increment for public sector workers. Even before that, they tested the water by telling us there would be no increment and came back to say it was not so. Just this May Day, the executive has frozen its salary – an indication that public sector workers might not even get an increment they will be happy about”.

Further reduce fuel price

The National Petroleum Authority, in a communique dated May 4, revealed that the price of fuel per litre will be reduced by 9 pesewas starting from Wednesday, May 5. Despite the NPA’s move, some players in the sector – including citizens – have begun a campaign to push the price further down: claiming the best way to achieve this is for government to restructure the cost build-up of petroleum prices, and also reassessing the existing deregulation programme in the country.

Included in every litre of fuel purchased are several taxes, levies and margins. They include the Energy Debt Recovery, 49 pesewas; Road Fund, 48 pesewas; Energy Fund Levy, 1 pesewa; Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levy, 14 pesewas; Special Petroleum Tax, 46 pesewas; Primary Distribution Margin, 11 pesewas; BOST Margin, 6 pesewas; Fuel Margin Marking, 3 pesewas; Marketers Margin, 46 pesewas; and Dealers Margin, 30 pesewas.

With the new and amended taxes which began on May 1, the latest additions are Sanitation and Pollution Levy, 10 pesewas; and the Energy Sector Recovery Levy, 20 pesewas. This means the levies have seen a 30 pesewas increase while two margins, Fuel Marketing and BOST Margins, also saw increases. But the NPA subsequently reduced some of the margins.

Duncan Amoah, Executive Secretary of the Chamber of Petroleum Consumers (COPEC), one of the campaigners against the increment said: “At a meeting over the new petroleum prices, we made a case for a restructuring the price build-up, to which the sector minister, Matthew Opoku Prempeh, asked that we hasten slowly.

“We also raised an issue with the current state of the downstream deregulation programme, but the minister promised a dialogue. We want the BOST, Fuel Marking and Price Stabilisation and Recovery Levies to be relooked at, or possibly scrapped; we think they have outlived their usefulness.”

At a time when government revenue has significantly dwindled and expenditure is over the roof due to the effects of COVID-19, one will have to wait and see if their campaign will yield any results.

Source: thebftonline.com

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Here is how the cedi is performing against major foreign currencies as of June 21

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The cedi traded against the dollar at a mid-rate of 5.7512

• The cedi traded against the dollar at a mid-rate of 5.7512

• It’s trade value against the Pounds Sterling stands at 7.9450 mid-rate

• The Euro, however, went up at a mid-rate of 6.8242

On the interbank board today, June 21, 2021, the Ghana Cedi is trading against the dollar at a buying price of 5.7483 and a selling price of 5.7541 as compared to last Friday’s trading of a buying price of 5.7483 and a selling price of 5.7541 to open the 25th trade week of the 2021 fiscal year.

Against the Pound Sterling, the cedi is trading at a buying price of 7.9407 and a selling price of 7.9493 as compared to last Friday’s trading of a buying price of 8.0040 and a selling price of 8.0126.

The Euro is trading at a buying price of 6.8208 and a selling price of 6.8275 as compared to last Friday’s trading of a buying price of 6.8468 and a selling price of 6.8536.

The South African Rand is trading at a buying price of 0.4023 and a selling price of 0.4027 as compared to last Friday’s trading of a buying price of 0.4071 and a selling price of 0.4075.

The Nigerian Naira is trading at a buying price of 71.2390 and a selling price of 71.3642 as compared to last Friday’s trading of a buying price of 71.3069 and a selling price of 71.3312.

For the CFA, it is trading at a buying price of 96.0757 and a selling price of 96.1701 as compared to last Friday’s trading of a buying price of 95.7098 and a selling price of 95.8049.

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15 years without research vessel worries fishers

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Fishing vessel

Fisher associations in Ghana are worried about the unavailability of a research vessel to conduct examinations on the behaviour of the country’s fish species, particularly in closed seasons.

The associations – comprising the National Fisheries Association of Ghana, the Ghana National Canoe Fishermen Council, Ghana Industrial Trawlers Association and the Ghana Inshore Fishers Association – are intensifying their request for the vessel, as the 2021 fishing closed-season is set to begin from July 1 to August 31.

Globally, fisheries research vessels are used to survey and monitor fish populations in the world’s oceans. The results of their investigations help scientists understand the status and development of fish stocks, and also define measures for their protection.

“The implication is that as fish stocks are expected to multiply and replenish in the closed-season, the biggest threat in the season is migration of these fish into other territories, particularly Togo and Ivory Coast. A research vessel will monitor all these activities in the ocean including water temperatures and conditions of phytoplankton, which serves as food for the fish,” president of the Ghana Inshore Fishers Association, Joseph Quaye, told the B&FT.

Unfortunately, the associations indicated that Ghana has been without a fisheries research vessel for the past 15 years. The situation, according to industry stakeholders, is contributing significantly to Ghana’s depleting fish stocks and worsening the illegal fishing burden confronting the country.

In 2017, government hinted at plans to acquire a research vessel to probe Ghana’s territorial waters domain in order to discover the amount of fish species in it.

Named the Dr. Fridtjof Nansen Research Vessel, it was expected to dock in the country on September 13, 2017 and inaugurated on September 14 the same year. However, till date, Ghana does not have any such advanced research vessel.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Regional Maritime Centre, Professor George Wiafe, has also confirmed that the current research vessel at the Ministry of Fisheries and Aquaculture became unworthy for sea since 1995.

However, the Minister for Fisheries and Aquaculture Development, Mavis Hawa Koomson, told B&FT that government is at advanced stage of procuring a modern, sophisticated fisheries research vessel for the sector.

The minister, who was speaking at the announcement ceremony of the 2021 fishing closed-season in Accra, also revealed that apart from the vessel, government, by close of year will procure four patrol boats to enhance monitoring, control and surveillance activities in Ghana’s marine waters. “These are major strides we are embarking on to fight against all forms of illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing activities in our waters, and to protect our stocks,” she said.

Source: thebftonline.com

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Heads of State agree to push new ECOWAS single currency to 2027

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Dr Jean-Claude Kassi Brou is the President of the ECOWAS Commission

• A new roadmap towards the ECOWAS single currency has been adopted

• The single currency is expected to take off by 2027

• The agreement was arrived at during the 59th Ordinary Session of the ECOWAS in Accra

After many years of planning, a new roadmap to launch the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) single currency in 2027, has been adopted.

This agreement, according to Dr. Jean-Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, was arrived at by all Heads of State of ECOWAS at the 59th Ordinary Summit in Accra, yesterday, reports the GNA.

“Due to the shock of the pandemic, the heads of state had decided to suspend the implementation of the convergence pact in 2020-2021,” Dr. Brou said.

“We have a new road map and a new convergence pact that will cover the period between 2022 and 2026, and 2027 being the launch of the Eco,” he said.

He also added that the Heads of State had requested of the ministerial committee to take a look at the new roadmap and the convergence pact, considering the lessons the coronavirus pandemic has brought on the sub-region.

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

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