Y.K. Addai-Nsiah, Farmer
IN principle, there is nothing strange about increasing utility tariffs. We have experienced increases over the years, some justifiable and others unjustifiable.
So long as production cost continues to increase, we shall continue to live with increases in utility tariffs.
Again, when there is every indication that consumers are paying unrealistic tariffs, reasonable increases cannot be questioned.
However, the recent tariff adjustments appear too huge for the people to bear.
The basis from which the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) arrived at the quantum of upward adjustment is unconvincing.
The increases in electricity and water tariffs are very strange, especially coming at a time that Ghanaians are facing economic difficulties.
Surely this is going to worsen the cost of living and people at the grassroots will suffer most.
The increases will cripple many industries and the effects will be disastrous for Ghanaians.
It is surprising why tariffs should be increased far above the recent salary adjustments and I expect government to do something about the situation.
Farmers will suffer from the increases. This is because there is likely to be increases in the cost of farming implements.
For sure, many people, especially those in the lower income bracket, will not be able to bear these astronomical increases.
I will entreat the government to do something about the whole matter before it gets out of hand.
Let me also tell the utility companies to plug the loopholes, especially in the areas of illegal connection and the failure of government institutions to pay their bills.
Robert Kyei-Gyau, Journalist
The recent hikes in utility tariffs announced by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), with the tacit support of government, has undoubtedly brought a lot of untold hardships to Ghanaians, particularly the poor.
Majority of Ghanaians, unlike our MP’s and people in government, find it difficult to make ends meet and their ability to fend for themselves and their families largely depend on the benevolence of extended family members and friends, who are themselves overstretched financially.
Therefore, the additional financial burden brought about by the 89 per cent and 46 per cent increase in electricity and water respectively is a killer punch that is likely to send many Ghanaians to their graves and reduce others, who can survive it, into paupers if the President does not step in to save the people.
Sadly, we live in a country where the state does not care about the citizens’ survival. What you eat, where you sleep, whether you have a job, send your children to school and have equal opportunities as those in government, is your own business. We claim to be practising pure capitalism and therefore the mantra of the state has always been, “each one for himself, God for us all.”
But, even in Britain, US and other Western societies that gave birth to and practice pure capitalism, the state helps citizens who are unable to fend for themselves adequately, people with less incomes, elderly, unemployed or underemployed, single parents, children and people with disability.
The percentages of the increments do not make any sense and is highly unlikely to lead to increased efficiency in the supply of power and water. Besides, the total cost recovery that the utility companies claim to be the main reason for the hikes will remain a mirage so far as they continue to sit by while people steal power and water.
The monopoly that the ECG and GWC enjoy must be broken otherwise they will always want more money but deliver poor services because they both have no competitors.
Unfortunately this hike, if not reduced, will prove the undoing of President Mills and his NDC party in their bid to retain power in the 2012 general elections.
The astronomical increase in electricity tariffs came as a shock to me. The increase showed the insensitivity of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to the plight of the ordinary people of this country.
Increases in utility tariffs per se are not anything strange in this country but what is disturbing is when the percentage increases are unbearable and unreasonable.
What we have just seen is inhuman, looking at the poverty rate in the country and the earlier something was done about it, the better.
The amount I used to pay for power at the drinking spot I operate has now been increased by almost 100 per cent and this is seriously affecting my business.
On one hand, profits are going to fall because some business people will not be in the position to increases prices of their products since they are fixed.
For business people who will be in the position to increase prices of their products, the final cost will be transferred to the consumer some of whom may reduce their purchasing power.
The economic situation in the country calls for measures that would ease the burden of the people and not what we are seeing, which is going to compound our problems.
One question that I used to ask is whether the only means of raising revenue for the utility companies is to increase tariffs?
I am told that in other countries, the authorities have other means of injecting capital into the operations of the utility companies and it is important that Ghana learns from them.
It is not too late for the authorities to review the tariffs. If possible, the government should absorb part of the increases to reduce the hardships that the increases have brought on the people.
Nana Yaw Osei,
Presiding Member (PM), Asante Akim South District Assembly, Juaso
I believe that the utility companies cannot grow without the needed financial resources. These resources have to come from the services they sell to their customers.
Therefore, it would not be out of place for the companies to increase tariffs to rake in some money and thereby render quality service to customers.
However, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the Volta River Authority (VRA) and the Ghana Water Company (GWCL) must be told in no uncertain terms that they have become almost useless and that had there been other competing companies, consumers would have dispensed with their bad services long before now.
The recent 89 per cent and 49 per cent increase in electricity and water tariffs, respectively, is clearly on the high side judging from the worse services they have been providing over the years.
We know their services will not improve. Just look at what is happening in the Ashanti Region. The Asante Akim area and Kumasi cannot boast of any better services.
Worse of all, any time these companies want to increase tariffs, they come with the same old uninspiring rhetoric of replacing old equipment and promising to render better service if consumers should accept the new increases yet they almost immediately return to their old bad ways!
What has happened to the private sector participation we have heard of? There must be competition just like in the telecom sector.
Kofi Addo, Private Legal Pra ctitioner
Simply put, the increases are astronomical and cannot be justified in any way. The increases do not take into consideration the living standards of the people.
It is strange that government is justifying the increases when all indications are that the percentage increases are too high.
Even though everybody deserves efficient utility services, we have not reached the stage where the consumer can fully bear the cost of the consumables.
Therefore, any increases must be measured in a way that will not overburden the people.
Today, a great number of people are wallowing in poverty and I wonder how they are going to bear the increases.
Efficiency is a key ingredient in the operations of the utility companies and until they tackle this area with seriousness, no amount of increases in tariffs will address their challenges.
I would have expected government and the PURC to look at the waste in the system and address them instead of overburdening the consumer with such killer adjustments.
Questions should be raised as to why top officials of the utility companies enjoy huge remuneration at the time they claim the companies need money to operate.
The time has come for the utility companies, and for that matter the government, to understand that they cannot take the good people of this country for a ride.
The increase is too high and the earlier something is done about them, the better.
Very soon, many industries will shut down because they cannot afford electricity bills.
For a pensioner like me, the least said about the hike the better.
In this country, pensioners do not enjoy any meaningful support from government and we have been made to live on meagre pensions.
The PURC has been putting up some defences to justify the increases but they are only meant to throw dust into our eyes.
From all indications, the huge adjustments will trigger increases in the cost of goods and services.
What we are seeing is not the ‘Better Ghana’ the government came promising us. Indeed, many people are beginning to lose hope in the government especially after the President went on the BBC to justify the increases in tariffs.
The Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ghana Water Company should look at other sources of generating revenue rather than pushing everything on the consumer.
The fact that the two companies want to improve their services does not mean the people should be over-charged.