July 28, 2010

The Minority in Parliament on Tuesday questioned government over what action it had taken after her vain appeal to the Public Utility and Regulatory Commission (PURC) to review the tariff increases.

The Minority believes that it was an empty talk, a statement issued by the Minority and signed by Mr. Kwame Ampofo Twumasi, Member for Nkoranza South, said.

Government should come out with workable interventions that would mitigate the hardships associated with the hikes as Volta River Authority, Ghana Grid Company and the Electricity Company of Ghana had been starved of resources since the last year of 2009.

It is not surprising the companies said they would have to push the cost to the consumer or fold up and throw the whole country into hellish darkness if they were not resourced by government.

The statement noted that this led to the hikes in tariffs for electricity and water as announced by PURC on May 31, 2010, adding, the PURC said a total of 1.9 million Ghana cedis was required by the companies to generate, transmit and distribute power, of which 1.2 billion was needed by the regulated market for the seven month commencing June 1, 2010 to December 2010.

The statement said government was trumpeting that it would absorb 49 million Ghana cedis however, the reality was that with a population of 24 million the subsidy translated into about two cedis per citizen for a year which in sum gave a figure of 0.17 or 1.70 per month.

It noted that while the minimum wage inched from 2.65 to 3.11, a mere increase of 17 per cent, the poor worker was to pay a minimum of 89 per cent for electricity alone and 32 per cent for water added to transport fares was too much.

Already, more than six million Ghanaian live below the poverty level and the increases would exacerbate the situation so “where is the I care for you choreography that was touted by the candidate Mills.”

It also noted that evidence on the ground points contrary to the 89 per cent increment by the PURC, “for example, the textile industry would experience a leap from 0.09 GHp per Kilowatt hour to 0.27 pesewas, which works out to 300 per cent”.

It again stated that the mining and timber milling companies were seriously affected adding, an average middle level timber mill at current rate spends about 100,000 Ghana cedis on electricity per month whilst the mining companies pay more than 1.2 billion per month.

It said water sector has also registered between 21 to 32 per cent increase for documented consumers adding, the Minister had confirmed the rather atrocious situation of massive wastage and even fraud in the system when he conceded that non-tariff water was in excess of 50 per cent treated water produced.

The statement noted that people of the country deserve better than the hypocrisy being displayed by the Mills government.