Tariff increment: What Akufo-Addo said on campaign trail comes back to bite him

BY WWW.GHANAWEB.COM - Oct 04, 2019 at 6:21am 100

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Ghanaians today are witnessing some increase in utility prices. The Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) has announced an upward review of the electricity and water tariffs by 8%, that is, 5.94% for electricity and 2.22% for water.

In a statement issued on September 30, 2019, the PURC explained that the increases in tariffs was determined by the Automatic Adjustment Formula (AAF) which considers eight factors, including inflation, in arriving at a review.

The tariff increment took effect on Tuesday, October 1, 2019.

Earlier, PURC had announced an 11% increase in electricity tariffs which started on July 1, 2019, so this second increment has barely lasted three months.

Prior to the 2016 general elections, one of the major promises of candidate Akufo-Addo was to reduce electricity tariffs when elected President.

On the campaign trail, he said “I think it is important for there to be clarity on this matter. If the government cannot or will not listen to the calls for the reduction of electricity tariffs, it is important for the people of Ghana to know that God-willing, if I win the elections later this year, I definitely will. I will definitely reduce electricity tariffs.”

Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the then-candidate won the hearts of most Ghanaians who were complaining of Dumsor and upward adjustments in tariffs by the Mahama administration.

Akufo-Addo described the increases in tariffs under John Mahama as insensitive, wicked and a disregard to the plight of Ghanaians.

Speaking to some party members and sympathizers in Köln, Germany, back then, candidate Akufo-Addo said that President Mahama’s decision to increase tariffs in the midst of the ongoing, crippling energy crisis is indicative of Mahama’s insensitivity to the plight of Ghanaians.

He said that after Ghanaians had experienced over three years of power crisis, it would have been prudent for the government to not increase tariffs....but the recent increment “means there is no end to the difficulties for the ordinary Ghanaian.”



Protest

Some Ghanaian workers who felt the then administration had disregarded their plight held street demonstrations against the increment.

Hundreds of workers who marched through the streets of Accra on Wednesday, January 20, 2016, poured out their frustrations on the Mahama administration for increasing both electricity and water tarrifs by 59% and 67% respectively.

The Secretary-General of Trades Union Congress (TUC), Kofi Asamoah, who led the demonstration defended the actions of the workers insisting that unless prices were reduced, the agitations would escalate.

"Organized labour has called for a reduction in the utility tariffs, and the withdrawal of the Energy Sector Levy Act 899. The working group set up to work out on an amicable solution has failed to produce satisfactory results," he said.

"We are aware of the stick the IMF is holding over the government following the extended credit facility. IMF policies have never delivered prosperity to any country anywhere in the world," Mr Asamoah added.

Government reaction

The Tamale Central MP, who was then Employment and Labour Relations Minister, Haruna Iddrissu, said that the demands of the workers were difficult to meet.

He, however, signalled how unhappy the administration was about the union's decision to continue protesting despite efforts to resolve their concerns.

"Organized labour has asked government to withdraw the energy sector levy and review tariffs down to 50 per cent. That is where we are in the course of the negotiations. And that is what displeases me personally about their intended declared action to proceed on a demonstration and strike action while negotiations are ongoing. It's like negotiating with a gun to your head," he said.

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