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Fuel prices to fall by 8%

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Fuel prices from Monday, March 16, 2020, are expected to fall by between 5 to 8 percent, which would bring some relief to consumers but whether commercial vehicle operators would reduce fares is another matter to fight over another day.

Even though crude prices collapsed on the world market a week ago, by falling more than 30 percent in a day of trading, the cedi came under pressure and some of the gains made have seen significant erosion which influences OMCs decision to reduce prices by as much as 8 percent only, even though the market is expecting a bigger drop in prices.

When crude prices plunged as a result of a battle between Russia and Saudi Arabia, Civil Society Organisations, politicians and other industry players called for a significant drop in fuel prices but then the local currency was feeling some pressures and has fallen by 2.62 percent against the U.S. Dollar to currently trade at an average price of GH¢5.48 to the U.S. Dollar over the period under review.

Background

When prices of crude started falling due to coronavirus pressures, OMCs hardly budged even though the local currency has risen by more than 5 percent against the dollar.

The Institute for Energy Security (IES), a think-tank, noted in a conversation that in the last pricing window in February, prices of petroleum products on the local market remained largely stable.

As a result, the national average price of fuel per litre at the pump is pegged at GH¢5.36 and GH¢5.38 for Gasoline and Gasoil respectively. The Institute’s price projection seems to be at variance with the estimation of the National Petroleum Authority (NPA), as it takes cognisance of the huge stockpile of finished products before the Monday international price crash, as well as the significant fall in the value of the Cedi against the US Dollar.

The National Petroleum Authority (NPA), earlier this week, said per its calculation, fuel prices at the pumps may go down by 15 percent on March 16, which is the start of the next pricing window.

Chief Executive Officer of the NPA, Hassan Tampuli, said although prices are due to go down, due process must be followed. He explained that the deregulation policy allows for two window periods within which price adjustments are to take place and that the next price window is March 15th, at which time the changes would be effected by the OMCs.

Source: thebftonline.com

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World Bank gives Ghana, six others US$379m

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Ghana and six other West African countries have been allocated US$379 million by the Board of the World Bank Group in International Development Association (IDA) credits and grants to help harmonize and strengthen statistical systems.

The other six ECOWAS countries are Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo.

According to the World Bank Group, the funds is to support the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in their efforts to deepen regional integration in Africa.

The new project, Harmonizing and Improving Statistics in West Africa (HISWA), aims to strengthen the statistical systems of participating countries and regional and sub-regional bodies, in order to help them harmonize, produce, disseminate and enhance the use of core economic and social statistics.

Good data, the World Bank Group said are essential to address the socio-economic development challenges facing the West Africa region in general, and the seven beneficiary countries in particular.

HISWA is a regional project that will stimulate demand for data and increase the capacity of the National Statistics Offices in the beneficiary countries. Key activities include, inter alia: the harmonization of methodologies by the ECOWAS Commission; strengthened production of core economic and social statistics, including demographic and poverty statistics, national accounts and price statistics; the improvement of targeted administrative statistics; capacity-building, data dissemination; and institutional reforms.

The project will also help to improve and modernize physical and statistical infrastructure to help achieve its stated objectives.

Beyond the National Statistics Offices and the regional bodies, HISWA will provide reliable microdata, data platforms and statistics bulletins to a larger audience, including universities, researchers, students and the general public.

The project is also relevant to the Strategy for Harmonization of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA2), the continent-wide initiative aimed at addressing the constraints facing African statistical systems and promoting its regional integration agenda. It also supports the implementation of ECOWAS’s regional strategy 2019-2023 that aims to raise the living standards of its member country populations. By generating data critical to national and regional planning and monitoring, the project remains well aligned with the World Bank Group’s Regional Integration and Cooperation Assistance Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa and will help strengthen the connection between regional policy commitments and national planning.

The World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA), established in 1960, helps the world’s poorest countries by providing grants and low to zero-interest loans for projects and programs that boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and improve poor people’s lives.

IDA is one of the largest sources of assistance for the world’s 76 poorest countries, 39 of which are in Africa.

Source: classfmonline.com

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Coronavirus: GH¢15 billion needed for nationwide lockdown – ILAPI

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The President for the Institute of Liberty and Policy Innovation (ILAPI), Mr Peter Bismark, has stated that Ghana requires GH¢15 billion for 28 days’ total lockdown to sustain the economy and protect the lives of its citizens.

He said those who are calling for a total lockdown should note that that was not the best option for Ghana because should that happen, a stimulus package of over GH¢15 billion would be needed for a 28-day lockdown.

“If it happens like that, it means that registered businesses and firms would have to shut down operations with employees going home, and go with salaries,” he said.

The president of ILAPI said the government would still have to ensure the continuation of salaries of public sector employment and provision of basic needs and other services, including electricity, essential services, water and food.

Mr Bismark said this in a release from the institute yesterday.

He said the informal economy would suffer from the lockdown because of loss of daily sales and income. The sector, he said, may not directly benefit from the emergency financial response but would reduce individual income and purchasing power.

According to him, since Ghana’s economy thrives on small and medium-scale enterprises, the government must spend more to support local businesses with some tax rebates, financial reliefs, refunds and social assistance.

Total lockdown

“As the market activities continue to drop and many Ghanaians are calling for a total lockdown, foward-looking fiscal and monetary measures are necessary to save the economy from impacts of the Coronavirus pandemic,” he stated

Mr Bismark said the exponential growth of the number of cases is already causing a progressive lockdown.

“With this development, businesses would close and physical activities would cease. Because of inexplicable barriers that the coronavirus crisis brings, people may be prevented from doing useful things for income and wealth creation.”

He stated that in the process, businesses must be compensated and this would call for both critical fiscal and monetary measures.

“With a total lockdown, certain goods and services that people would otherwise buy and enjoy will be off-limit. It does not mean, however, that one would have stopped eating; instead, you make your food at home and due to this Ghanaians may now spend more money on other things,” the ILAPI boss stated.

He said switching from consumption to saving might be impossible at this time because the situation would encourage people to spend rather than save.

Mr Bismark said making readily available the package was important for private sector planning of business sustainability and job security in this COVID-19 pandemic.

He added that the critical areas to consider include businesses, jobs, internet connectivity, transport, fuel, tax compliance, raw materials, manufacturing, rent, health care, agriculture, security, utilities and occupational licenses.

Measures

The Vice-President of ILAPI, Mr Evans Badu Boampong, said the government must meet all the relevant business associations, including the manufacturing firms, to deliberate consciously on production capacity and job loss.

He said insurance companies could not remain the same with our insurance premiums during lockdowns so the government again must meet the Insurance Commission as early as possible to make a readily available partial payment to their clients to support them in times of the panic.

“They should also provide exclusive premiums to their clients to support government health interventions,” Mr. Boampong said.

He said salaries of workers should not be subjected to full tax deductions, suggesting that at least 50% tax refund should be given workers while Ghana Water Company should consider opening taps for those who are even owing bills to ensure there is a free flow of water to aid hand washing.

The Ministry of Food and Agriculture, through the Buffer Food Stock, Mr. Boampong said, should develop an outline system to supply food to underprivileged homes and also support companies in Ghana (both local and foreign) to change their structure of production to produce some essential goods to avoid shortages during the lockdown,” he stated.

Mr Boampong said Ghana Grid Company Limited, Volta River Authority and Electricity Company of Ghana must ensure there was continuous supply of power since most institutions would be working from home and that tariffs should be reduced.

He said there are people who don’t even have a place to get locked inside, adding Ghana has a housing deficit of over 1.5 million. Therefore, the government must advance plans to shelter some millions of Ghanaians in hotels, motels, and guest houses among others.

“As a policy analysis organisation, we make these proposals based on a careful study of other nations which have implemented lockdowns due to COVID19. And we believe that these measures should suffice, though not completely, in helping manage the situation of a lockdown,” Mr Boampong said.

Source: Starrfmonline.com

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CBG commits GH¢1 million to coronavirus fight

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Consolidated Bank Ghana Limited (CBG) is committing up to One million Ghana Cedis (GH¢1,000,000.00), to the fight to contain and stop the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

CBG, an indigenous bank, and the country’s second-largest in terms of branch network, is dedicating the funds to public education, supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and other vital equipment to aid the national effort at preventing the spread of the flu-like virus.

A statement from CBG to the Ghana News Agency (GNA), quoted the Managing Director, Daniel Wilson Addo, as saying that, the money would be well-targeted to achieve maximum impact.

It said the Bank would be acting swiftly and timeously on requests for assistance received from key frontline institutions, tackling the public health emergency.

“As a proud Ghanaian bank, we stand with every Ghanaian. We know we have a moral responsibility to play this strong role in stemming the spread of the virus.”

The statement said the bank was also providing support to its customers by subsidizing the cost of using its electronic payment channels and other digital banking products.

Ghana’s case count has shot up to 132 with three deaths.

Global infection of the pathogen has topped 471,000 with more than 21,000 dead as leaders scramble to deal with the virus that has changed the normal routine and pattern of life.

The statement noted that the increasing number of confirmed cases including community transmissions was fueling calls for mass testing.

“This will mean that medical research centres such as Noguchi Memorial Institute will need more resources in order to increase their capacity to test more people.

“Some of these funds will be used to support the expenses of such Ghanaian institutions in their fight against COVID-19,” the statement said.

It reminded the public to observe good personal hygiene, social distancing and other measures put in place by the government to curb the spread of the infection.

The bank encouraged increasing use of online or mobile platforms for financial transactions, as a critical part of the social distancing guidelines from the World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health.

Source: GNA

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