After weeks of public debate, the government has decided that Ghanaians should bite the bullet as it has upwardly adjusted the prices of petroleum products by between 15 and 50 per cent.
Individuals, government functionaries and agencies joined the debate on the pros and cons of the removal of subsidies on petroleum products.
The Bank of Ghana, on its outlook on the economy, stated that the subsidies were unsustainable and noted that pressure related to fuel subsidies and other matters could act to offset the gains made in macro-economic stability.
Other people, including the National Security Co-ordinator, Lt Col Larry Gbevlo-Lartey (retd), have also cautioned against the subsidies that have created a booming business in the smuggling of petroleum products across our borders.
Some others, in their personal capacity, such as Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby, have threatened court action against the removal of fuel subsidies.
The Ghana Trades Union Congress (TUC) has always taken a position against fuel price adjustments and particularly the removal of subsidies, holding the view that the removal of subsidies will lead to hikes in fuel prices, with ripple effects throughout the economy.
We saw this day of an upward adjustment in petroleum prices coming when government officials started flying the kite in a public relations gimmick to prepare the minds of the public against any backlash.
It appears the campaign worked to calm public agitation to a large extent, as reactions to the price adjustment are mixed.
Already, the Ghana Road Transport Council has released new transport fares, which means that commuters will pay more for transportation. This also means that the prices of foodstuffs and other goods and services will go up because of the ripple effect.
In addition, domestic and commercial users of liquified petroleum gas (LPG) will pay more, meaning their budgets will be stretched further. At least for those who use it for commercial purposes, the cost will be passed onto the consumer.
We are sure the government is aware of the effects of fuel price adjustments on the market. In this case, we are not talking only of the market where goods and services are traded but on the job market which has been boiling since the beginning of the year over uncompleted business in the implementation of the Single Spine Pay Policy (SSPP).
The Daily Graphic appreciates the challenges imposed on the government by the continuous subsidisation of fuel prices in the country. The policy imposes a Herculean task on the government in trying to support activities that will bring comfort to the people.
We urge the government, in the short to long-term, to introduce measures such as safety nets to cushion the effects of the price adjustments, especially on the poor, vulnerable and excluded.
If that is not done, the objective of the government to halt the collapse of the economy will lead to social upheavals and tension because more hardship will be imposed on mostly wage earners, pensioners and other vulnerable groups.
The Daily Graphic urges the government to strengthen the public transport system and other services that affect the poor.
Going forward, however, it will be necessary for the government to look at the conditions that necessitated the introduction of the subsidies on fuel before deciding on the removal of the remaining subsidies.
We must not forget that anytime the prices of petroleum products go up, workers demand more pay and their leaders have always factored those adjustments into their negotiations.
We need to look at the issues again in order to arrive at the best policy options that will take the country out of the woods.