NUGS Angry Over Utility Subsidies Withdrawal

Sammy Dakwa Binfoh and Prof Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang – Minister of Education

The National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) has threatened a showdown with government, if the decision to withdraw utility subsidies in tertiary institutions is not rescinded.

NUGS, Ghana’s umbrella body of students, is against the withdrawal because according to the group, ‘it is compelling tertiary institutions to levy students with the bills.’

According to NUGS President, Sammy Dakwa Binfoh, the move by government amounts to ‘relinquishing its commitment to students’.

The threat follows government’s directive to public tertiary institutions and state agencies to carry their own utility burdens.

The Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has warned, it would be forced to cut power to some public universities and polytechnics that are drowning in debts resulting from unpaid bills.

Speaking to Joy Fm Thursday, Sammy Binfoh said the University of Cape Coast would be charging GH¢400 for resident students and GH¢300 for non-resident ones.

But the students, thought to be easy targets by, have responded with threats packaged in a two-week ultimatum to government.

At a news conference Thursday, Sammy Binfoh said ‘it smacks of irresponsibility for government to foot the bill of its ministers and some public officials and provide free fuel among other perks, while students are being asked to pay for electricity.’

He wondered how government officials who once were students, enjoyed free accommodation, free food and received stipends, would make tertiary education a difficult experience for the current generation.

The Electricity Company of Ghana in a letter to the tertiary institutions, asked them to budget for the payment of utility bills following the directive.

This was followed by another letter in March asking the institutions to foot their own utility bills from January this year because, the Finance Ministry had agreed to pay all arrears ending December 2013.

Joy News sources have learnt that the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology owed in excess of GH¢8,000,000 as at February 2014.

Authorities at the University of Cape Coast are reported to have said they could not pay the money now until August as the amount had now risen to GH¢1 million from GH¢300,000 in January.

The Accra Polytechnic is in arrears of GH¢113,572. The University of Ghana is yet to cover the cost of its arrears.

The Accra East Regional Manager for the ECG, Ben Nyatefe, has warned, the company might be compelled to cut electricity supply to the University of Ghana and the University of Professional Studies if they failed to pay their debts.


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