The Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC) has accused the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) of deliberately increasing tariffs to get more commission.
According to the Campaign Coordinator of ISODEC, Dr. Steve Manteaw, the PURC is quick to approve proposed tariff increases by the utility companies because the regulator benefits from the hikes.
“PURC, since it was established increases tariff rampantly because of their own selfish interest and higher percentages [in commission] that it makes it very difficult for them to protect the consumer against the companies,” Dr Manteaw said.
He said he could not exactly tell percentage the PURC gets as commission but stressed “I know they have a share whenever they increase tariffs”.
The Campaign Coordinator of ISODEC said the PURC is seeking tariff adjustment on behalf of ECG as a grand design to prepare ECG for privitazation. He said the general public must stand against any upward tariff adjustment.
Speaking Monday on Adom FM’s ‘Burning Issues’ programme with Afia Pokua, Dr Manteaw said the PURC has always disappointed the general public when it comes to protecting consumers’ interests.
The PURC was set up as a multi- sectoral regulator by Government in October, 1997 under the Public Utilities Regulatory Act, 1997 (Act 538) as part of the utility sector reform process to regulate the provision of utility services in the electricity and water sectors.
The Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), Volta River Authority (VRA), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCo) are currently seeking tariff increases.
The GWCL is seeking 124% increase in its tariff from ?1.78 for 120 gallons of water (5 barrels) to ?4 for 120 gallons of water.
When the increases being sought by ECG, VRA and GRIDCo are computed together; it will increase electricity tariff from 44, 50 -pesewas per kWh to 102-99 pesewas per kWh, representing over 100% increase in tariff.
For electricity, ECG is seeking 101% increase; VRA wants 108% increase while GRIDCo seeks 31.26%, and if the three are computed it will result in over 100% increase in electricity tariff.
The PURC is yet to scrutinise the proposals and determine what increases the utility providers deserve.
Meanwhile, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Timber Millers Organisation (GTMO), Dr. Kwame Asamoah Adam, says the organization is not against the proposed tariff adjustment.
He said efficiency is what GTMO members and the general public want from utility providers.
“We support the tariff adjustment if only the power providers will provide constant 24 hours electricity to Ghanaians without interruptions” Dr. Kwame Asamoah Adam.
He added that every business person want to improve upon his or her business, hence if only the utility service providers will ensure say constant electricity they would have no problem.
He added that the government must look out for possible solutions to salvage industries from total collapse.
Dr. Asamoah said if the government is broke to resource the VRA and ECG to operate, it must look for financial assistance to maintain and protect companies in the country.
Also, the Southern Zonal Coordinator of the Ghana Coalition of NGO’s In the Water and Sanitation Sector (CONIWAS), Mr. Benjamin Lartey, says the PURC and the utility providers must justify why they want to increase tariffs.
He is suggesting that the utility providers should rather collect debts owed them by public institutions and some individuals in order to strengthen their finances instead of charging more for their services.
Furthermore, energy expert Ismael Agyekumhene said part of the problem facing the utility providers is inefficiencies in the system.
The Executive Director of Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy & Environment (KITE-Ghana), said electricity tariff hikes are not necessary now, but consistent power supply is what the general public need.