TUC proposes 15% downward review of utility tariffs

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) on Monday proposed a 15 per cent downward adjustment of utility tariffs to reflect wages and salaries of Ghanaians.

Mr Kwabena Otoo, the Director in charge of Research and Policy at the TUC, made the proposal at a public hearing, organised by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), in respect of the 2019 Major Tariff Review for Electricity and Water in Accra.

Mr Otoo said Ghanaians were not supposed to suffer for the 21 per cent energy losses by utility service providers and urged the PURC to consider the general low wages of Ghanaians.

He noted that data from the Ghana Statistical Service pegged Ghanaian workers’ wages at an average of GH¢800.00 per month, saying: it would be suicidal for the PURC to accept the upward tariff adjustments proposed by the utility service providers.

He added that the public sector earnings for 2019 went up by only 10 per cent therefore it was prudent for the PURC and utility companies to consider these dynamics before adjusting tariffs.

Mr Otoo said it was unacceptable for service providers to pass on their technical and commercial losses onto consumers, and thus, asked the PURC to ignore the proposals.

He lashed out at some “bad” government policies in the energy sector, particularly independent power purchase agreements signed with energy investors, resulting in excess power capacity in the system, which had been repackaged for utility consumers to pay the extra cost, describing the situation as unfair to consumers.

Commenting on the take-over of ECG by the Power Distribution Service Ghana Limited on February 1, Mr Otoo said the new arrangement should not in any way burden utility consumers with tariff increment.

Mr Ishmael Agyekumhene, the Chairman of the PURC Technical Committee, who presided over the meeting, said the PURC would go into caucus meeting to consider the tariff adjustment proposals made by the utility service providers and chart the way forward.

He said the PURC would announce new utility tariffs soon, but would be implemented from February 1, this year.

“We’re reminded to strike a fair balance between consumers on one side and utility service providers on the other side, and we’re insisting on prudent cost,” he added.

He said the Commission would consider a number of factors before agreeing to up tariff adjustment or otherwise.

He asked Ghanaians to collaborate with the PURC and utility service providers to clamp down on illegal power connection and waste in the system, noting that, the energy sector could have either positive or negative impact on the Ghanaian economy depending on how we manage it.

Representative from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) and Enclave Power Company Limited (EPC) made various presentations to justify their proposed tariff adjustment in order to reflect their operational costs.

The ECG proposed 23 Ghana pesewas upward tariff adjustment per kilowatt hour (23p/KWh), GRIDCo 4.897 Ghana pesewas per kilowatt hour (4.897p/KWh), NEDCo 43 Ghana pesewas per kilowatt hour (43p/KWh) and EPC proposed 26 Ghana pesewas per kilowatt hour (26p/KWh) for the 2019 Utility Tariff Review.

However, the GWCL was silent on any upward utility tariff review.

The forum created a platform for stakeholders in the energy sector, including utility service providers and consumers to deliberate on the proposed utility tariffs for consideration.

The public hearing, which is required by law, had already been held in Tamale and Kumasi.

Source: GNA

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