Stop the crocodile tears; reduce electricity tariff

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The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has charged President John Mahama to end what it described as “crocodile tears” and reduce electricity tariff in the country immediately.

The NPP believed this will help the government ensure better macroeconomic management and ease the economic hardship Ghanaians are going through.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) announced a 59.2 percent increase in electricity tariff and 67.2 percent in water tariff for residential consumers. The new tariffs took effect from December 14, 2015.
Later, a mass action by organized labour resulted in a reduction of the tariffs by the government. The electricity tariff was reduced from 59.2 percent to 45 percent and 50 percent for lifeline consumers and vulnerable groups.
But a statement issued by the NPP said the current tariffs have to be reduced further because they are “killing enough” Ghanaians.

Read full statement below:

PRESS STATEMENT
THURSDAY 26TH MAY, 2016
NDC GOVERNMENT SHOULD STOP THE PROPAGANDA AND CROCODILE TEARS AND REDUCE ELECTRICITY TARIFFS NOW!
Nana Akufo Addo, flagbearer of the NPP, has called on the government to stop the blame shifting, crocodile tears, and propaganda, and move quickly to reduce the electricity tariffs and ensure better macroeconomic management.
This call is very timely, coming at a time when Ghanaians are straining under the burden of massive electricity tariffs hikes and severe economic hardships.

In October 2015, amidst reports of $180 million debt owed VRA to N-Gas, the West African Gas Pipeline Company held a press conference during which the Managing Director Mr Walter Perez announced that President Mahama had okayed an increment in electricity tariffs in Ghana in order to pay the debts.
This disclosure was followed shortly in December by tariffs increases of 70% and 80% of electricity and water, which increases also came with new levies and taxes.

As if these increases were not killing enough, Ghanaians have been horrified to find that the actual effective increases as reflected in their bills have been far in excess of the announced 70%. The increases have amounted in many cases to even 1000%!

Since January 2016, the media, including social media, have been awash with complaints from citizens, commerce, and industry about the effective percentage increases, which had made the cost of living even more unbearable and led to business closures and failures.
Government’s response over the last 5 months has largely been to blame “faulty” meters and vague promises to “look into the matter”.

By this month of May, the complaints, from labour, industry, and ordinary consumers have been such that it was clear government was not getting away with the excuses.
Government’s desperate reaction now is to blame the PURC and the ECG and even the New Patriotic Party!
Minister Omane Boamah’s statement last Monday called on the PURC to act. Hon Muntaka’s statement in Parliament last Tuesday put the blame on ECG, actually accusing the state-owned company of supervising the increases in collusion with the NPP in order to embarrass and make the government unpopular!!
Now the PURC has also jumped in, laying the blame on some ECG software.

Many questions arise:

Since the complaints and outcry over the electricity billing started in earnest from January 2016, is it now that it has come to government’s attention?

b) How should Ghanaians place the explanation that came from ECG and PURC that the 70% announced increase was only an average and so the actual incidence of the percentage increase could be higher than the 70%?

c) did the electricity meters suddenly become faulty after the December 2015 tariff increments?

d) was the billing software changed after the new tariffs were imposed in December 2015?

e) how about the charge from ECG that since 2014, about seventy thousand (70,000) “political” electricity meters have been installed, which meters are not billed ? (Peace FM 12-noon news Thursday 26 may)?

It is clear that the government is just crying crocodile tears by this sudden concern over a situation that has persisted for 5 months, and by the attempt to blame the ECG as a scapegoat. The ludicrous attempt to rope in the NPP shows that the government does not think much of the intelligence of Ghanaians.

It is clear knowledge that the main drivers of these inhumane increases in tariffs include:

a) the failures in President Mahama’s government’s macroeconomic management which have caused steep falls in the value of the cedi (or steep rises in the price of the dollar); coupled with the

b) Sole-sourced and imprudent (to say the least) leasing deals in emergency power (such as Ameri and Karpower) at tariffs levels much higher than market prices;

c) Government imposition of new taxes and levies in December 2015.
The great suffering of Ghanaians today over these killer electricity and water tariffs is therefore direct result of government failure to maintain the value of the cedi (the dollar’s price in last seven years has gone up nearly 250%), government mismanagement and deliberate government policy that had imposed new taxes and levies on electricity tariffs.

Beyond the excuses of “sudden” faults in ECG meters/ and faulty new software , blame game and propaganda and crocodile tears, the government should stop the mismanagement and move quickly to reduce the tariffs and ensure stable tariff levels through better macroeconomic management.
The sufferings of Ghanaians are just too much!