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Ghana’s New Administration Comes Under Fire for Fuel Price Increase

President John Evans Atta Mills' new administration is coming under intense criticism after the Ghana National Petroleum Authority announced an eight percent fuel price increase. The price hike, which goes into effect today, follows global fuel price increases. But the opposition seized the opportunity to accuse President Atta-Mills of reneging on his camping promise. The opposition party said the government's upward adjustment of fuel prices cannot be justified, adding that the government has no right to increase petroleum prices when crude oil prices on the world market are 50 dollars per barrel. But the petroleum authority said the price rise is informed by increases in crude oil prices on the international market.

Editor of the "Daily Dispatch" newspaper, Ben Ephson, tells reporter Peter Clottey that the opposition's accusation is ridiculous.

"In fact, if I was an advisor to the opposition parties, I will just not complain, because elections are over three years away. I will keep quiet and pray that the NDC (ruling National Democratic Congress) makes more mistakes so that my party gets more leverage in terms of support," Ephson noted.

He described as unfortunate an opposition accusation that the ruling party has reneged on its campaign promise of reducing fuel prices.

"Well, what Professor Mills promised was that he was going to reduce taxes on fuel because I think that the increase in fuel prices is one by the National Petroleum Authority (NPA). And Professor Mills, indeed through an act of parliament, reduced the taxes on the petroleum prices," he said.

Ephson said the opposition's accusation is ridiculous.

"What happened is that in the run up to the elections in the second round, the NPP (former New Patriotic Party) government reduced petroleum prices so people seem to be mixing it. But I think that if I were to be the NPP, I will continue to pray that Professor Mills does not keep to his promises because clearly in three and half years time when people are voting, they would be concerned as to whether they have been able to have more access to healthcare, they are more secure, and that they are better off at 2008 than at 2012. But not what has happened three or four months since the NDC came to power," Ephson pointed out.

He said although the new administration has taken off slowly, it is not to blame for the situation it finds itself in.

"So far it has been a bit slow, which is not Professor Mills' fault in terms of the transition. You know, we had a like a Florida in Ghana, and it was within two days that the elections were announced that there was a swearing in. At the end of the day three years down the line, has he (President Atta-Mills) delivered on his promises?" he asked.

Ephson said there is need for the opposition to back off with the incessant criticisms being leveled against President John Atta-Mills, less than four months into his administration.

"I think that the NPP should be careful that in barking so loud, people would say but this man (the president) has been in power for only three months. Give me a break. So if the NPP is not careful, they would cry wolf, and when there is an actual wolf, nobody will believe them. They really have to be careful in their criticisms, and as I keep saying, if I were to be the NPP strategist, I will continue to pray that, and wait two years down the line. I will use it effectively. But I think they care more about Professor Mills political survival than the NPP," Ephson noted.