The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has rejected government’s claim that it cannot afford to remove taxes on petroleum products.

It says government must strive to provide incentives that will cushion industry players and consumers who are reeling from the impact of high fuel prices in the country.

According to the Secretary-General of TUC, Dr Yaw Baah, other countries “gave money to their citizens” at the height of fuel price increment, which did not run them into losses; hence, government has no excuse for denying calls for the removal of petroleum taxes.

“I think this is a social investment that we need to do to bring calm to society to avoid any problems from the social groups, I hope the President will take this again,” he told JoyNews in an interview.

There has been a significant sustained increase in the price of petroleum products at the pumps influenced largely by global events but also aggravated by a raft of government taxes.

Organised labour has been agitating for the removal of some of the taxes.

But President Akufo-Addo declared during the May Day celebration on Sunday that he will not remove the taxes, insisting it will cost the government ¢4 billion a year.

He said government was currently confronted by very tight financing conditions, in the wake of inadequate domestic revenue mobilisation.

“Indeed, some of the revenues from these same taxes on petroleum products is what is used to pay some of the salaries of some of the 700,000 public sector workers on Government’s payroll.”

“We, therefore, continue to be vulnerable to the price volatilities of the world market for petroleum products,” Mr Akufo-Addo explained.

This has been met with fierce opposition from the Trades Union Congress (TUC), which has resolved to continue pushing for the possible removal of the taxes.

“I did not agree fully with the President saying that ‘if I remove all taxes on petroleum, Ghana will lose ¢4 billion.’ I don’t understand what he meant by loss. If you give something to your citizens, you haven’t lost anything.

“The President only looked at the money aspect in terms of quantum or whatever he said he was going to lose,” Dr Yaw Baah argued.

Meanwhile, the TUC wants government to, as a matter of urgency, review the single spine pay policy and pay workers a living wage.

“As we speak, minimum wage earners in Ghana are currently receiving ¢13.53 for a whole day’s work or ¢365 for a whole month’s work. This is below the 1.9-dollar international poverty line at the current exchange rate…salaries have lost over a third of their real value as prices of essential commodities, including food and fuel continue to increase on daily basis.’’

Dr Baah lamented the “poor structuring” of the salary of Public Sector employees, which he said also affected pensions particularly, those not captured under the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT).

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