Government’s Gold for Oil programme has been a topic of much discussion and debate in recent times.
The programme aims to use the country’s gold reserves to pay for crude oil imports, which would help reduce the amount of foreign currency needed for such transactions.
However, concerns have been raised that the programme could lead to the government taking over the petroleum market and driving out private competitors.
To address these concerns, the Deputy Energy Minister, Andrew Egyapa Mercer, has come out to assure Ghanaians that the government has no intention of taking over the petroleum market through the Gold for Oil programme.
In an interview on the PM Express Business Edition, Mr. Egyapa Mercer stated that such concerns are unfounded and go against the capitalist orientation of the ruling New Patriotic Party.
He stressed that the government already plays a significant role in the petroleum market through state-owned entities, which account for about 40-50% of the market.
Private sector players, in the form of Bulk Distribution Companies (BDCs), play in the 50-60% space, and that has not changed.
According to Mr. Egyapa Mercer, the Gold for Oil programme is a test run to address some of the issues that come up, and the government has no plans to increase its market share.
He added that the Bulk Oil Storage and Transportation (BOST) and other state actors have limited capacity and would be unable to handle the full demands of the nation even if that was the intention.
He further assured Ghanaians that the government believes in the private sector as the engine of growth and that its current policy is to allow private sector players to complement the work of the state-owned entities, as was done under the presidency of His Excellency President Kufuor.
It is worth noting that the Gold for Oil programme is not a new initiative. In the past, Ghana’s petroleum products were imported by the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) to complement the work of the Tema Oil Refinery (TOR), making the entire space government-dominated.
However, under President Kufuor, the GNPC factor was taken out, and private sector players were allowed to complement the work of TOR. This policy has been in place for many years and continues to be the case today.
While the Gold for Oil programme may have raised concerns about the government’s intentions in the petroleum market, the Deputy Energy Minister’s reassurances should ease.