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15.03.2013 Business & Finance

ICU Says No To Tariff Increase

ICU Says No To Tariff Increase
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The Industrial and Commercial Workers Union (ICU) of Ghana Trades Union Congress says no to the tariff increase, which was recently suggested by the Volta River Authority (VRA).

The ICU commended the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) for its stance against the current demand by the VRA.

This was contained in a press statement signed by Mr Morgan Ayawine, ICU Deputy General Secretary Operations and copied to the Ghana News Agency on Thursday.

It said ICU firmly throws its weight behind the PURC and urges it not to give in to the unreasonable demands of the VRA in the public interest.

It said the issue of electricity tariff increase has, for some time now, become very distasteful to consumers, which is a matter that cannot be treated lightly by organised labour.

The ICU urged the Parliamentary Select Committee on Energy to take cue from the PURC's position on the matter.

It said the indispensability of electricity in the life of consumers, be they individuals or corporate organisation is indisputable and therefore, places consumers in an inextricable situation where electricity tariff increase are willy-nilly forced down the throats of Ghanaians.

It said: “It seems the VRA, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and their associates in the power production, distribution and supply business; fully aware of the dispensability of electricity and knowing that there is no immediate alternative have developed a notoriety to rush and asked for tariff increase at the least opportunity without even exploring other possibilities to resolve their problems and challenges.”

It said the VRA, ECG and their associates are always asking for more tariff increase without regard to its ramification on consumers.

The statement said the two companies should not be allowed to have their way and take consumers for a ride especially as their services do not commensurate with the increase in tariffs they are asking for.

It recounted that three years ago, a huge increase in electricity and water tariffs were imposed on consumers; with the assurance that it would enable the authorities to resolve the power and water crises once and for all.

It said three years down the line, the same demand for tariff increase and the same assurances to resolve the power problem and ensure sustainability of the service delivery companies is being thrust upon consumers again.

The ICT said there was no guarantee that VRA and its associate would not come back again after this to demand another tariff increase, all in the name of “resolving the power crises”, which never happens.

It noted that last year Ghanaians were given the assurance that the power crisis was going to be over by the middle of November, but it did not happen; and up to date there is no clear signal when it would be over.

The statement said this is becoming cyclical and unacceptable; and therefore must not be allowed to continue.

It urged the regulatory authorities to rise up to the challenge and protect the interest of consumers.

The ICU said the public are yet to recover from the “blow” it had from the recent increases in prices of petroleum products and therefore cannot afford another dose of price increase in the form of electricity especially at the time when Ghanaians are already saddled with enormous water and electricity bills, without improved services as envisaged.

It said the losses in electricity distribution, the uncollected electricity bills especially owed by the government and its agencies and other corporate bodies, the illegal electricity connections among other wastages from production through supply, if checked and properly harnessed would constitute a colossal wealth which the power authorities could use to boost their operations and break-even.

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