Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah
Trade and Industry Minister Ekwow Spio-Garbrah suspects the Public Utilities and Regulatory Commission (PURC) ordered the utility companies to increase tariffs recently to sabotage the government.
“It is curious that many of these charges are coming at this time in the first month of an election year,” he complained bitterly on Joy FM during a visit to Volta Region yesterday.
The imposition of high taxes and utilities forced thousands of public sector workers with support from those in the informal sector, to hit the streets recently across the country in protest against the mismanagement of the Ghanaian economy.
The angry workers, under the umbrella of Organized Labour, were particularly incensed about the high taxes and levies imposed on petroleum products.
The workers don’t understand why they should pay more for petroleum products especially at the time when crude oil is currently selling at below $28 on the world market, describing the Mahama administration as insensitive.
The NDC government recently slapped killer taxes and tariffs on consumers.
Dr. Spio-Garbrah, who has a different view about the hot issues, rather blamed the regulator PURC and the state-owned companies like Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Ghana Water Company for the outrageous prices.
“You wonder if utility rate has gone up by 150%, why didn’t it go up by 20% two three years ago, 30% last year and maybe 40% this year to more or less achieve the same objective?” he quizzed.
“Why have some of these institution waited till an election year and all of a sudden you hear incredibly outrageous rates 57, 100%, 400% etc all the way to affect ordinary water that human beings drink.”
“Are they trying to raise revenue for a particular purpose and what is the objective?”
Dr. Spio-Garbrah said his ministry, which is a stakeholder in the scheme of affairs, had never been consulted on issue.
“We consider ourselves as stakeholder in the broad economy as well as the matters that affect business and industry but at no point have we ever been called to also come before the PURC or any other public agency that wishes to revise its rates to discuss the basis for which these rates are being revised, the potential impact on the broad economy.”
By William Yaw Owusu