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Ghana Utility Rate Hikes Seen As ‘Unacceptable’

  • Peter Clottey

A prominent member of the Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a political pressure group in Ghana, has described as unacceptable sharp rate increases in electricity and water.

Bernard Morna told VOA the group will be holding an emergency meeting to take decisive steps to counter what he said was astronomical rate hikes which will put more financial constraints on the average Ghanaian worker.

“It is clear that we are very disappointed at this reckless manner in which (the) government has been passing on taxes and, for that matter, tariffs on the people of Ghana… (But) the people of Ghana have not benefited in reciprocal manner as far as these issues are concerned…This situation is unacceptable (and) we find this very repulsive,” he said.

Ghana's President John Evans Atta-Mills

Ghana's President John Evans Atta-Mills

The rate increases, which go into effect Tuesday, are generating increasing debate among many Ghanaians. Some contend that previous increments have not yielded improvement in the quality of service delivery despite repeated promises.

But, the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) said there is a need for the rate increases since utility companies need more cash in order to provide consumers top-quality service.

Morna said utility services delivery has deteriorated over the years despite rate increment.

“When they claim that they need to provide top-quality service, the question one will want to ask is that, since 1998, to date, they’ve always increased the tariffs on these services (and) they should tells us what they have succeeded in doing in terms of appreciating the quantity and quality of the services they provide…we have noticed that the water situation in the country has continued to dwindle,” Morna said.

President John Atta-Mill’s administration has welcomed the rate hikes, although admitting that the increase will be harsh on a large segment of the population.

In a statement, the government said, “While we expect that the new tariffs approved by the PURC will improve the revenue base of the companies, government will continue to provide the required financial support to provide the necessary infrastructure for the utilities to operate efficiently.”

Morna said the rate hikes are unnecessary and inconsiderate.

“The need to provide quality service is not anchored on increased utility prices for the people of Ghana. Let’s look at the management of water in our nation and, as you walk from Ofankor through to Achimota through to the ministries, you see daily that water pipes are broken. And, they are there for weeks and sometimes months and that nobody is there to attend to (it) or to fix it,” Morna said.

Meanwhile, some analysts have questioned the timing of the rate hikes saying the tariff increments will have a negative impact on the economy by undermining Ghana’s recent inflation decline.