New utility tariffs cannot be reversed- Govt tells Organised Labour

The government has explained that the recent upward adjustment in utility tariffs cannot be reversed since it would be inimical to the stability of the economy.

The Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Mr Haruna Iddrisu who made this known when he met Organised labour, Ghana Employers Association (GEA) and Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) on Tuesday over the upward adjustment in fuel prices, as well as water and electricity tariffs.

The announcement of increases in electricity and water tariffs to 59.2 per cent and 67.2 per cent respectively by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), took effect on December 14, 2015, while the 25 per cent fuel increases became effective yesterday.

The fuel increases were occasioned by the passage of the Energy Sector Levy, 2015 by Parliament last December.

The PURC explained that the utility tariffs were arrived at after careful investigations on the proposals submitted by the various utility providers to enable them have a clean balance sheet to be able to borrow from the financial market without recourse to the government to finance their operations.

The Public Relations and External Affairs Manager of the PURC stated that the utility providers had demanded 126 percentage increment for electricity and 400 percentage increment for water.

However, there was public outcry after the announcement and the subsequent implementation of the increases, although organised bodies such as the Trades Union Congress and the National Peace Council asked the regulatory commission to hold on with the increases.

Tuesday’s meeting with government was therefore to iron out issues relating to the increases and stay a possible strike action by workers to back their demands for a reduction in the utility price hikes.

Mr Kofi Asamoah, the Secretary General of the TUC at the end of the meeting said the meeting was not conclusive.

“Our insistence is on the reduction of utility levels since it is going to worsen the plight of ordinary people and we made government and stakeholders appreciate our unhappiness with those developments.”

He said they will meet again on Tuesday to reconsider the issues. Mr Haruna Iddrisu on his part said government took “those difficult but necessary decisions to stabilize the economy and to fix the energy crisis and prevent it from relapsing into a deeper crisis.”

He said government now has an outstanding debt in the energy sector hence the new levy to clear the areas.



Source: Graphic