The government is likely to start the implementation of the advanced form of deregulation of the petroleum sector on June 15.

If this happens, importers and marketers of petroleum products will set their own prices instead of the National Petroleum Authority.

The development could see prices come down eventually as various players compete to attract more customers to their service stations.

However, some players have told Joy Business the move is likely to be implemented from July 1.

The government was initially looking at starting this price liberalisation under the deregulation from June 1, however, some challenges forced the government to push the date forward.

Joy Business has learnt that the change in date has been influenced by the fact that it has not concluded necessary consultation all the interested parties on its plan to allow importers and marketers to set their own prices.

For instance an oil marketing company believes that in order to drive traffic to its service station, it might want to reduce the price of petrol by 2 percent, this could also force another operator to reduce its prices in order not to lose customers.

For some analysts, the consumer will be the beneficiary, as the various oil markets compete for more buyers. Some also say that it will bring about a lot of efficiency among those who market and import the petroleum products.

But there are also fears it might not be all that rosy for consumers when the advance form of deregulation takes place, as prices could go up substantially in some instances.

Even though the plan by government is to completely wash its hands off the petroleum market, and allow forces of demand and supply to control it, there will still be some level of regulation, as the National Petroleum Authority (NPA) may still have to decide the kind of petroleum products that can be sold on the market.    

In a related development price of petroleum products have been kept unchanged at the pumps.

This means for the next two weeks consumers will buy the product at the same price they were buying it as at May 16.

Over the past few days, prices of crude oil and petroleum products have witnessed a marginal increase while the Ghana cedi continue to depreciate. Looking at the NPA’s own model for reviewing the products, prices should have gone up. This means the government has again stepped in to prevent consumers from paying the actual cost for the product.

According to Joy Business’ own analysis, prices should have gone up from between 3 to 6 percent. 

Even though it might come as a lot of relief to consumers now, the long-term impact might be bad for the economy and consumers.

Credit: myjoyonline