Minister unhappy with TUC’s stance on electric tariff hikes

A deputy minister has described as “hypocrisy” the stance taken by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) on the recent increase in electricity tariffs saying it was playing double standards.

“The TUC, as an organized labour group, is behaving like they belong to a political party that is bent on making government unpopular by refusing to accept the recent tariff increases and the subsequent subsidies that government has given to cushion consumers of water and electricity.”

Nii Amasah Namoale, a deputy minister of Food and Agriculture said:     “The time has come for us, as Ghanaians to see through the motives of certain individuals who wish to prevent the socio-economic development and growth of this country at all cost.”

At a press conference in Accra, the MP for Dade Kotopon said it was surprising that the TUC had rejected the report of the Technical Committee submitted to the Vice President, though Dr Tony Baah, Deputy General Secretary of TUC represented the union on the Committee and appended his signature to the report, an indication of consent.

Following the general protest against the rise in utility tariffs recently, the Vice President set up the committee of stakeholders to look into concerns raised and make recommendations for redress.

Nii Namoale said, additionally, by law, the TUC is a member of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, adding that, the TUC reportedly made an input in the final determination of the residential tariffs for consumers of water and electricity at that level.

He said, “the recent increment is not the highest in the country’s history because 2001 saw the highest increment of 103 per cent with a lifeline increase of 95 per cent and an increase in residential tariff of 102 -159 per cent.”

“We were in this country, why did the TUC not go on demonstration against the tariffs in 2001. I guess they were the cohorts of the government in power at the time.”

The deputy minister said the government is currently paying a subsidy of about GH¢185 million for consumers of electricity, a resource which could have been used for developing other sectors of the economy such as the construction of schools and dormitories.

It said the growing demand for electricity called for the inclusion of Independent Power Producers in the generation of the power, adding “if the price is not right no invest would bring money to invest in the energy sector and competition would then be absent.”

The deputy minister challenged members of the Association of Ghana Industries to provide audited accounts of their electricity consumption to the PURC for scrutiny for all to know the impact of electricity on their final cost of production.

“What is the cost of unserved energy- loss of production, loss of hours, usage of expensive alternative sources of energy- diesel, generators, etc on the country’s economy?” he questioned.

He urged Ghanaians to sacrifice to pay a little more to the utilities to enable them to operate efficiently and deliver better services, without the problems of load shedding.

Source: GNA

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