New tariffs outrageous, insensitive — Minority
The Minority in Parliament has described the recent hikes in utility tariffs as ‘insensitive’ and ‘outrageous’.
It said the development would impact negatively on the cost of production of businesses and further slow down the pace of economic activities.
Addressing a press conference in Accra, the Minority Spokesman on Water Resources, Works and Housing, Mr David Oppon-Kusi, said coming in the wake of a paltry 10 per cent increase in salaries and a 20 per cent increase in fuel prices, the hikes would render the average Ghanaian poorer and result in economic strangulation.
Mr Oppon-Kusi said there were major administrative and technical inefficiencies in the operations of the utility companies, as well as mismanagement and corruption, that needed to be addressed, pointing out that failure to address the problems and yet asking consumers to pay more was tantamount to passing on the inefficiencies to consumers.
‘The New Patriotic Party is in principle not against the payment of realistic prices for the consumption of these utilities. The generators of these utilities must be helped at least to break even if we are sure that they are producing the products as efficiently as possible, devoid of any corrupt practices and that all the users of the facilities do pay for the services they enjoy.
‘Utility tariff increments may not always be wrong, but when they are driven by mismanagement, as is the case in the current increments, they must be condemned,’ he stated.
Mr Oppon-Kusi said the VRA, GRIDCO and the Ghana Water Company would all concede that there still existed major administrative and technical inefficiencies which must be worked on.
He said besides, the current situation where over 48 per cent of the chemically treated water that was produced by Ghana Water Company was unaccounted for, could no longer be tolerated.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), about a week ago, announced a 78.9 per and a 52 per cent increase in electricity and water tariffs, with effect from October 1, 2013.
It said the actual increases averaged 150 per cent, but the commission took into consideration concerns raised by stakeholders regarding a one-time quantum increase.
It added that in that regard, it had agreed to stagger the tariff increase over a period using the automatic adjustment formula.
Mr Oppon-Kusi said the PURC failed to raise tariffs incrementally in the past three years when it acknowledged the fact that that would have been easier for Ghanaians to bear than the ‘massive dose’ announced a few days ago.
‘It clearly seems that the PURC has been doing politics with the price increase,’ he said.
Mr Oppon-Kusi, who is also the Member of Parliament for Ofoase-Ayirebi, expressed doubt over statements made by the PURC to the effect that the low level of water in the Akosombo Lake was militating against optimal power generation, saying the water level in the dam, as of yesterday, was 258 feet.
That, he said, was far above the minimum level of 240 feet.
With regard to the unavailability of crude oil cited by the PURC, he said the government was indebted to the utility companies, which made it difficult for them to procure crude, saying instead of paying them, the government was making Ghanaians pay the price.
By Mark-Anthony Vinorkor/Daily Graphic/Ghana
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