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04 October 2013

New Tariffs to Clear Gov't Mess - NPP

The Minority in Parliament has described the recent increment in utility tariffs by the Public Utilities Regulation Commission (PURC) as "insensitive and outrageous".
The 78.9% increment on electricity and 52% on water, according to the lawmakers, was only making Ghanaians "pay to clean the mess of the ruling National Democratic Congress."
Registering their disapproval of the increment yesterday in Parliament, the Minority held a strong view that the effect of the increment would further worsen the already deplorable economic situation of the ordinary Ghanaian.

The Member of Parliament (MP) for Ofoase/Ayirebi, David Oppong Kusi, lamented that no official reasons were given to justify the huge tariffs increments.
He was quick to add that the members of the New Patriotic Party were not against the tariffs increments, but rather the current inefficiencies which had clouded the services of the utility providers.
Mr. David Oppong Kusi, who is also the Ranking Member on the Select Committee on Water Resources Works and Housing, further alleged that there were too much corrupt practices, among which include the non-payment of services enjoyed by some consumers, which, he said, was a result of the tariffs increments.
Touching on some of the inefficiencies confronting the generators of the utilities, he disclosed that "The VRA, GRIDCO, ECG and Ghana Water Company would all concede that there still exist major administrative and technical inefficiencies which must be worked on.

"Besides, the current situation where over 48% (i.e. almost half) of the chemically-treated water, which is produced by Ghana Water Company, is unaccounted, for can no longer be tolerated."
Beyond this, about 25% of the tariffs of metered water were not being collected, hence, only about a third of all water produced by Ghana Water was paid for by about one-third of persons who, otherwise, had been enjoying the facility to sustain their operations. A situation, which, he added, "requires urgent surgery."
He, however, added that the case of electricity was nothing different from the aforementioned. In electricity supply, almost 50% of electricity generated was either lost through inefficient transmission systems or not paid for. "We cannot, as a nation, continue on this path."

Mr. Oppong Kwesi argued that the justification by the government that the tariffs hikes would help to build the infrastructure needed to improve upon the quality of the utility services "is also too stale, too over flogged, and too ridiculous to be believed."
He said the above justification has been the excuse for every tariff increment, which have never been honoured. "Government has to be serious about capitalising our electricity and water sectors," he said.
In view of that, the lawmaker advised the government to retrieve monies owed it by Waterville, Isotofon and GYEEDA among others, to invest in this critical sector of the economy.

He maintained that the NDC government, unlike its predecessors, had benefitted from various areas, which include huge foreign exchange earnings from oil exports, borrowing heavily from foreign sources in a form of foreign exchange, and as such, could not afford to fail the good people of Ghana.
"Utility tariff increments may not always be wrong. But when they are driven by mismanagement, as is the case in the current increments, they must be condemned," he noted.
On his part, the Minority Leader in Parliament, Osei-Kyei Mensah-Bonsu, said the situation, where just a section of the people enjoying the services pay for it, coupled with administrative inefficiencies, must be corrected to save Ghanaians from paying huge increments in the future.

"In the entire region, Ghana is the highest in water loss. If you produce 100% and sell 48%, then it is ridiculous. I am not saying there is no place in the world where all water produced is consumed, but we can do something about it; Togo loses 18%, Nigeria over 20%, and La Côte d'Ivoire 15%".
And where some people don't pay for the electricity they use and engage in illegal connections, and nothing is being done about it, then the result will be huge tariff increments," he added.


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