Govt Awaits Recommendations On Utility Tariffs—Mahama
President John Dramani Mahama has assured that the government is ready to work with any recommendation towards ameliorating the effects of utility tariff increases on the people to be presented by the working group set up to look into the impact of recent utility tariff hikes.
He, however, expressed worry at the 10-day ultimatum that the Trades Union Congress (TUC) had given to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the government to reduce the recent increases in electricity and water tariffs.
He said once the TUC had a representation on the working group, which was constituted by Vice-President Bekoe Amissah-Arthur, it was expected that the TUC would wait for the release of the group’s report before issuing any threat to the government.
President Mahama was addressing Northern Regional and constituency executive members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Tamale on Saturday.
The meeting was the first that the president had held with the Northern Regional executive members after the election petition verdict, which upheld the validity of his victory in the 2012 election.
Also at the meeting were the Chief of Staff, Mr Prosper Douglas Bani, a senior advisor to the President Mr P.V. Obeng, ministers of state and presidential staffers.
The PURC approved 78.9 percent and 52 percent increases in water tariffs, respectively, with effect from October 1, 2013.
But on Tuesday, October 8, the TUC held a press conference at which its Secretary General, Mr Kofi Asamoah, gave government and the PURC a ten-day ultimatum to reduce the utility tariffs or face a nationwide strike.
President Mahama said the working group, which comprised representatives of the TUC, was constituted to look into the cost build-up to ameliorate the effects on consumers.
He said the working group was expected to present its report next week, and wondered what the TUC’s stance would be if the working group recommended a reduction in utility tariffs.
“We are waiting for the report, and depending on what they say, the government will be advised accordingly,” he said.
On electricity generation, President Mahama said due to the insufficiency of gas in the country, partly because of the cut in gas supply from the West Africa Gas Pipeline Project from 120 million standard cubic feet to 30 million standard cubic feet, many of the country’s thermal plants depended on light crude oil.
He said the cost of light crude oil was 70 per cent higher than that of gas, hence the increased cost of electricity generation in the nation.
The President said hopefully Ghana would produce its own gas next year from the gas processing infrastructure in the Western Region.
Therefore, he said, for now Ghanaians had to be prepared to pay a little more on electricity.
However, he said, the government still subsidised electricity to more than one million customers of the Electricity Company of Ghana ( ECG).
President Mahama indicated that the annual rise in electricity of between seven and 10 per cent required the participation of private companies.
He said the difficulty was that the government could not subsidise the electricity prices by the private sector.
The President said the eight-month election petition scared off investors while donor partners refused to release funds to the country.
“Because of the election petition, investors were waiting and donor partners held back. That led to the slowing of the economy,” he said.
President Mahama said Ghana entered 2012 with a deficit of 12 per cent, coupled with the energy crisis and the frequent market fires.
To make matters worse, he said, different groups of workers also embarked on strikes.
Despite those challenges, the President said “the government was diligent and focused and continued to work to overcome the challenges.”
He said the government could not spend much now because of the deficit, but indicated that the current challenges were temporary.
For instance, President Mahama said the medium term economic indicators were good, but noted that the challenges were with the short term indicators.
He, therefore, urged government functionaries to tighten their belts to work hard to bring the economy back on track.
The President announced that he would be embarking on outreach programmes in all the regions to acquaint himself with the progress of work. The outreach programmes would last for a week in each region.
Besides, he said, at the end of every month, the Cabinet would hold a special meeting in any of the regions beside Accra.
Leave a comment. 0 comment so far.