“Incredibly outrageous” utility tariff hikes killing the economy – Spio-Garbrah

The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has condemned the recent utility tariff hikes, describing them as ‘incredibly outrageous’.

In an interview with Accra-based Joy FM on Thursday, Mr Spio-Garbah said the increments were unjustifiable, especially in an election year.

He said it was curious that many of the new charges had been introduced in the first month of an election year.

“I mean you wonder if a utility rate has to go up by 150 per cent, why didn’t it go up by 20 per cent two, three years ago, 30 per cent last year and maybe 40 per cent this year to more or less achieve the same objective.

“Why have some of these institutions waited till an election year and all of a sudden we hear incredibly outrageous rates – 57, 100 per cent, 400 per cent etc… all the way to ordinary water that human beings drink.”

The Minister expressed regret that his Ministry was not consulted before the tariff hikes were introduced.

“We ourselves, as a Ministry of trade and Industry, consider ourselves a stakeholder in the broad economy as well as matters that affect business and industry, but at no point have we ever been called to also come before the PURC or any other public agency that wishes to revise its rate to discuss the basis for which the rates are being revised [and] the potential impact it will have on the broad economy,” he said.

Mr Spio-Garbrah cautioned that in trying to raise revenue for some sectors of the economy, the country might end up “killing the goose that is laying the golden egg”.

“You might think you are doing a good job by just raising revenue here or some other charge there, but you are killing the whole economy or killing the businesses that are going to bring jobs and help to create broader income and exports revenue for the economy,” he pointed out.

The Minister called on the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) AGI and the Ghana Chamber of commerce and Industry to demand “more comprehensive explanations for the basis for these increases” from agencies such as the PURC.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in December 2015 announced a 59.2% and 67.2% increase in electricity and water tariffs respectively.

However, after a public outcry and threats by the Organised Labour, the government on Wednesday announced a reduction in electricity tariff by 15 per cent for vulnerable groups.

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