Over Coronavirus But Leaves Out Himself & Omits Fuel Prices Too…..
President Akufo-Addo, has temporarily suspended foreign travels for all public officials, as part of measures the government has taken to prevent the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, but copiously left out himself from the ban.
Mr Akufo-Addo, per the directive is seen as positively responding to the Coronavirus scare, which has seen many countries locked down with two of Ghana’s neigbours; Togo and Burkina Faso also hit, but his government is yet to respond to the demands by Ghanaians to reduce the prices of petroleum product, which have been affected by the same virus internationally.
In a circular issued by the Chief of Staff at the Office of the President, Akosua Frema Osei-Opare, and addressed to all sector Ministers and their deputies, Regional Ministers and their deputies, all Metropolitan, Municipal, and District Chief Executives, and all Heads of Government Agencies, the Chief of Staff, stressed that only essential and critical foreign travels would be considered and, thereafter, approved.
“The directive, together with other measures being put in place by Government, is intended to protect the general public from contracting the virus. Please take note and ensure compliance,” the statement added.
It will be recalled that, at the 63rd Independence Day Celebration, in Kumasi, on March 6, 2020, President Akufo-Addo, admonished Ghanaians to stop shaking hands completely, and cover their mouths when they cough and sneeze to help prevent the spread of the Coronavirus disease.
Describing the disease as a medical crisis that is bringing in its wake deaths and economic difficulties, and is spreading fear and panic throughout the world, President Akufo-Addo revealed that in the early days of the outbreak, he constituted, on 7th February, a high-powered emergency response team to handle the crisis.
The Team, he said, has been monitoring developments and reporting to him on a daily basis.
He stated that strict checks at Ghana’s entry points are being conducted, with rigorous screening procedures.
“Isolation and treatment centres have been designated for potential cases, and a quarantine centre has been set up. Five thousand (5,000) personal protective equipment for health workers have been procured and distributed to all regions and major health facilities, points of entry, teaching hospitals, treatment centres and selected health facilities,” he said.
Furthermore, the President told the gathering that additional protective health equipment is being procured, together with the ongoing training of health workers in the treatment of the disease
“In the interim, non-essential travel into Ghana is being strongly discouraged from high-risk countries, namely, China, Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea. We are counting on the experts to do their part to safeguard us, but we all have a responsibility to take measures to help ourselves and each other,” he said.
In advising Ghanaians, he stated that “the recommendations are for each one of us to practice basic, personal hygiene, and be extra careful with sanitation. For the time being, as the Ministry of Health has advised, we have to revisit our custom of shaking hands, and stop doing so completely, and we must cover our mouths when we cough or sneeze.”
Whilst praying that “the Almighty continues to shield us”, the President told Ghanaians that the time has come for all Ghanaians to pay attention to the health experts, and reject all fraudulent claims for cures that will only threaten public health and safety.
“Please listen to, and take seriously, the public education messages being put out by the public health authorities, and I urge the churches, mosques, traditional authorities, civil society organisations and opinion leaders all to join in helping to keep Ghana safe,” he said.
In appreciating the active collaboration being offered by the global health authority, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and by friends of Ghana, President Akufo-Addo assured that “Government, on its part, is determined to do whatever is necessary, including providing the requisite resources, to ensure the safety of the population.”
The statement from the Jubilee House, which described the virus as deadly, overly focused on government officials but ignored other Ghanaians, who are on private or personal business trips abroad, making the ban look cosmetic.
Meanwhile, The Chamber of Petroleum Consumers Ghana (COPEC), has called for a reduction in fuel prices on the domestic market following the sudden drop of the prices of crude oil on the international market.
The decrease has been attributed to the price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as the spread of the coronavirus.
COPEC in a statement said consumers could be benefitting from a reduction of between 10%-32% compared to the 2% that consumers have been enjoying over the past few weeks.
“It is our expectation in the coming few days that the various Oil Marketing Companies and the BDCs will ensure the Ghanaian is given nothing but the full benefit of these sustained reductions in fuel prices on the international markets,” the statement said.
“Coupled with the steady decline in international oil prices, also is the nominal appreciation of the local currency, the cedi, which has recorded an appreciation of over 5% from earlier depreciation figures of over 5.85/$ to currently trade at below 5.40/$ according to latest BOG figures,” it said.
COPEC wants Ghana’s price stabilization and recovery levy scrapped, explaining that its continuous imposition is inimical to the consumer.
“The PSRL must be immediately scrapped from the Price Build Up and a more sustainable source of funding be instituted for premix in order that the whooping 16p/litre charge on fuel prices can be dropped permanently to ease the pressure on pump prices immediately forthwith.
“We cannot continue to deceive the Ghanaian of a deregulated petroleum pricing environment which is somehow also micromanaged against the very people we expect to bear with when there are increases but someway somehow deny those same people any reductions when the indications point in that direction,” COPEC indicated.
The largest opposition party in Ghana, National Democratic Congress (NDC) has also demanded that the government reduces fuel prices at the pump by a minimum of 20%.
In a statement signed by the National Communications Officer of the NDC, Sammy Gyamfi accused the Akufo-Addo government of deliberately refusing “to pass on the significant reduction in the price of crude oil on the global market to petroleum consumers in Ghana” following the “declining prices of crude oil on the international market” due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
The NDC said they were disappointed in the government and described it as a “display of gross insensitivity by President Akufo-Addo who has consistently flattered to deceive on his promise to reduce fuel prices and all his flagship campaign promises.”
The statement also called on the public to reject any reduction that is less than 20% at the pump.This call comes after oil prices dropped to its lowest since 1991 on Monday.This is after Saudi Arabia started a price war with Russia by slashing its selling prices.