#Ghbudget: Ghanaians demand fuel price reduction, jobs

Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta.

Ahead of today’s [Wednesday] reading of the 2018 budget and economic policy statement by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta in Parliament, some Ghanaians have been speaking about their expectations, and how they expect it to influence their lives.

Some Ghanaians who spoke on Eyewitness News on Tuesday, were hopeful for among other things, a drop in a number of taxes and levies, and the provision of jobs for  skilled but unemployed citizens.

A taxi driver, Lotsu Sitsofe, said that he was hoping for a reduction in the taxes and levies on petroleum products which would result in a reduction in fuel prices for commercial drivers.

According to him, the drivers who already struggle to make enough money for their upkeep daily, have to spend a lot of what they make on fuel purchases.

He also stated that, aside having to buy fuel for their cars, the drivers have to meet other financial commitments which additionally drains their incomes.

“My expectation is for government to reduce the fuel [prices] for us commercial drivers because we are suffering, and the taxes are too much. You buy fuel and have to pay tax so what exactly are we taking home? The drivers are dying, if you have a car owner and you have to make sales, how much can you make in a day? The tax alone; insurance, income tax and other individual taxes. The commercial drivers are holding the nation. They fill their tanks early in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evenings because they move around, while private car owners can fill their cars once in a week,” he lamented.

Dr. Emmanuel Kodua

“We could make about 70 cedis after a whole day and have to pay about 20 cedis now for fuel. For drivers who have to pay car owners, they would have to pay about 50 cedis to the owners. You want your car to be in a good condition, and your car needs to have fuel everyday as a commercial driver. You need to feed your children – I have two – and the rest of your family.”

Veterinary doctors cry for employment 

Two unemployed veterinary doctors who have had to remain at home despite completing their housemanship requirements, also called on government to provide an allocation in the budget for financial clearance in order for them to be absorbed into the public service.

The doctors expressed dissatisfaction with government’s inability to employ them, despite the crucial role they play in general public healthcare.

A taxi driver, Lotsu Sitsofe.

Dr. Emmanuel Kodua, who graduated in 2016 and completed his housemanship in September 2017, stated that he had not been paid since completing the programme, and was struggling as a result, given the massive financial outlays he has had to make within the period.

“Formally, you are supposed to get appointment letters, but we weren’t given. And because it’s mandatory to do our housemanship, we went ahead and did it, and because we weren’t given our appointment letters, we were not going to be paid. We’ve finished the programme successfully without receiving the letters which means that I have finished the programme without being paid my due salary. I finished my housemanship programme in September and since then, I’ve been at home without being employed,” he said.

“It isn’t good that after devoting seven years of your life to study to benefit the nation, the nation thinks it’s not ready to employ you for the reason you went to school. This time that we’re in, things are very difficult with rent and utility bills. Even during our housemanship, you have to use your own funds for a place to stay and are not paid for it. We are being put at a point where we can’t breathe.”

Dr. Kwesi Adjei Safo

Another veterinary doctor, Dr. Kwesi Adjei Safo, who has been unemployed since completing his housemanship in 2016, echoed the concerns with the ‘difficult’ situation they were in, particularly after the big commitments they had made to get trained in the first place.

He spoke of his struggles to complete his course and having had to rely on a philanthropist to pay his fees.

“I finished my housemanship in 2016, and haven’t been employed since then. The issue has got to do with financial clearance according to our authorities. Things are very difficult,”he said.

“Being trained as a veterinary surgeon is about three times more difficult and more expensive than being trained as a medical surgeon but then you come out and don’t have a job.”

By: Edwin Kwakofi/citifmonline.com/Ghana