Gov’t appeals to Organised Labour to suspend action… Asks PURC to review tariffs

Haruna Iddrisu,Minister of Employment and Labour Relations (5)The Government has appealed to Organised Labour to reconsider its decision to embark on a nationwide demonstration tomorrow, as the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) is prepared to review the water and electricity tariffs downwards.

Making the appeal yesterday at a press briefing, Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, said government was prepared to absorb the difference in the tariff review, as part of a support to cushion the full impact on consumers.

He, however, indicated that scrapping the Energy Sector Levy, which was part of the demands of Organised Labour, could not be met as the levy constituted a major plan in revitalizing the energy sector and the economy.

Mr. Iddrisu said the Energy Levy could not be easily scrapped since its introduction was meant to address four fundamental challenges the government was currently facing.

He said government owed a debt of about 1.2 billion dollars in legacy debt, which constituted the bulk of the monies used in subsidising petroleum products in the country.

Mr. Iddrisu said in order for government to continue to support the buying of the crude to support power generation in the country, there was the need to find money for that purpose, saying,” the energy levy was meant to address that challenge.”

He said with regards to having good roads in the country, the levy would support the Road Fund which would inevitably create the platform for many road contractors to be paid their outstanding debts.

Mr. Iddrisu said, the government intended to use about 80 per cent of the Road Fund to pay contractors, while the 20 per cent would be earmarked for new projects.

He said both the rural electrification projects and the plans to retool both the Volta River Authority and Electricity Company of Ghana would be catered for under the energy Levy policy.

Mr. Iddrisu urged Organised Labour to return to the negotiation table as government looks for other avenues of cushioning the impact of both the tariffs increase and the Energy Levy.

By Lawrence Markwei

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