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24.07.2002 Press Release

REACTION TO MINORITY PRESS RELEASE ON INCREASE IN UTILITY TARIFFS

By J. O. OBETSEBI-LAMPTEY (MINISTER, INFORMATION & PRESIDENTIAL AFFAIRS)
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The Ministry of Information and Presidential Affairs has been informed of a Press Release issued this afternoon by the NDC Minority in Parliament in which the Minority has described, in a mixture of distortions and untruths, the Statement issued by Government following the PURC announcement, as fraudulent and smacking of spin doctoring.

The Ministry expresses its concern for the continued attempts by the Minority to fuel discontent amongst the good people of Ghana by regularly resorting to innuendos that do not contribute to the good governance of this country.

Government has never at any time denied that it had held meetings with the PURC. The press release issued on Tuesday July 23, 2002 clearly indicated that Government was disappointed because the PURC had not completed its consultations with Government, as Shareholder of the utility Companies. This clearly implied that there had been meetings except that consultations had not been fully exhausted.

The PURC is independent, as mandated under the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act 541, and this Government respects and supports the full independence of the PURC.

Government in its statement and in recognition of the independence of the PURC and having regard to the fact that the present composition of the Commission reflects all the key consumer groups and also the fact that no representatives of the utilities themselves are on the Commission, is at loss to see how the Minority would distort the situation on the ground by attempting to lead a confrontational war between the PURC and the Government.

The Charge that industries would collapse under the burden of the new tariffs is untenable because the industrial tariffs have rather been rationalized and indeed there were no increases in energy charges per kilowatt-hours consumed. In fact the increases in capacity charges for industries only reflect the need for improved power factor in our industries. An action that should have been appreciated by the Minority Spokesman on Energy.

Government clearly indicated in the Statement issued on July 23, 2002 that Government will use the opportunity of His Excellency the President’s commissioning of the new Mallam Sub-station on Thursday July 25, 2002 to announce specific policy interventions to mitigate the impact of the new tariffs, especially on the poorest consumer, the “lifeline” consumer.

Government takes this opportunity to dispel the false statement by the Minority that the Hon. Minister of Energy made a statement at a ceremony in the Hohoe North Constituency that new tariffs were soon to be announced. What the Hon. Minister did was to advise on the need for the utilities to be able to cover all their legitimate costs.

Government has always maintained that the financial integrity of the utilities is as important as the ability of the consumer to pay. This is an open policy of Government that has repeatedly been made known to the public at large. This open policy is no different from any assurance it has given to our Development Partners. Government therefore rejects the NDC Minority in Parliament’s statement as diversionary and a gross attempt to politicize the issue of tariffs in an unnecessary manner.

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