The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission says the nation will go back to days of power rationing if newly approved utility tariffs are reduced by even one per cent.

According to Nana Yaa Gyantuah, Public Affairs Director of the PURC, there was no chance the tariff increases will be cut as was being demanded by organised labour.

Labour unions are agitated by the new tariff regime which came into effect October 1, 2013, and have given government a 10-day ultimatum to review the tariffs or face an indefinite strike; the ultimatum is in its 5th day.

The Trades Union Congress said the increments – 78.9 percent for electricity and 52 percent for water – are too high, and has demanded that the implementation of the new tariffs be staggered in such way that they will not impact negatively on the living conditions of workers.

But speaking Monday on the Super Morning Show on Joy FM, Nana Yaa Gyantuah said: "We went through a lot of calculations" before arriving at the current figure.

She said the TUC's demand had already been taken care of because:  "We started with 78.9 [for electricity], we are going to spread the remaining over a period of time".

"We went through a lot of calculations and there's no way the figures will go down further than this.

"If we go down by a single percentage margin, we are going to see some form of crisis; we are going back to the days of load shedding," she stated.

Paying realistic prices

Policy Analyst, Dr. Mawiaz Zakaria said the need for consumers to pay realistic prices for utilities is key to the sustainability of supply.

Dr. Mawiaz said although the increments may be justified, their impact on the general economy and industrial sectors must be given serious consideration.

"There will be inflationary pressures in the short term…we need to look at mitigating the effect of inflationary pressures on the consumer" which is due to the increases in the prices of utilities.

According to Dr. Mawiaz, the mining sub-sector which is already in crisis, could be the hardest hit since it heavily depends on the supply of energy.

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