AFAG hits at PURC over utility tariff hikes

Pressure group, Alliance for Accountable Government (AFAG), has described recent tariff increases announced by the Public Utilities and regulatory Commission (PURC) as insensitive, needless and baseless.

In a statement issued in Accra recently, AFAG stated: “There is neither a commonsensical nor economic basis for this increment. Clearly it seems the PURC has become a tool for the oppression of business and domestic consumers.”

PURC announced recently that from April 1, 2015, electricity tariffs would go up by 2.63 percent while the water tariff would be increased by 1.06 percent.

According to the Commission, in calculating the tariffs for the second quarter’s Automatic Adjustment Formula, it arrived at an actual increase of 31.73 percent cumulative for electricity and 21.30 for water but using the decision variable, it decided to pass on a minimal tariff increase.

The Commission further explained that the “action has been necessitated by the current electricity situation whereby consumers are spending extra income on the acquisition of other alternative sources of electricity.

However, AFAG says the timing for the tariff hike is wrong since businesses were laying workers off due to challenges facing the economy.

The group said Coca Cola has laid off 500 workers with other lay-offs happening in other companies unannounced as a result of the erratic power supply.

“Consumers are already paying market price for utilities with no commensurate services from operators. for the past six years the excuse for price hikes has always been to improve services but shockingly, all increases have resulted in poor service.

“The PURC should put its thinking cap on and reckon that any such increases without fixing 'dumsor' are going to raise operating cost of businesses and would lead to further lay-offs and consequently affects the larger economy”, AFAG said.

The pressure group has therefore called on Civil Society groups, political parties, Trade Unions, Association of Ghana Industries (AGI), among others, to kick against the increases.