PURC, Labour talks deadlocked

A meeting between Organised Labour and the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) in Accra yesterday on the tariff increment, ended in deadlock.

The over-three-hour meeting which was at the request of Organised Labour, was to state its position on the recent tariff increase.

Prior to the commencement of the closed door meeting, the General Secretary of the Ghana Trades Union Congress, Mr. Kofi Asamoah, asked the Commission to suspend the implementation of the new tariffs until there was some stability in the supply of power.

Better still, he said the Commission should reduce the tariffs further, but the PURC said the tariff had already been gazetted and took effect from yesterday.

Mr. Asamoah said in the view of Organised Labour, it was only when the people of Ghana, including workers in both formal and informal sectors of the economy, were sure of reliable supply of power and water that they could be convinced to pay higher tariffs.

He said the utility companies should be compelled by the PURC to reduce their technical and operational inefficiencies, as the condition for tariff review.

“Our position is that PURC should have first considered the availability and the reliability of power before the review of the tariffs,” Mr. Asamoah said.

He indicated that Ghanaian consumers were already paying heavily for the depreciation of the Cedi and the high inflation, noting that real wages had fallen drastically, especially since 2012.

He said following their consultations with PURC, they did not expect any increase in tariffs beyond 50 per cent, as against the 129 to 400 per cent proposed by the utility companies, on condition that power supply would have stabilised.

Besides, Organised Labour also expected that the implementation of any new tariffs would start next year.

“As workers, we are worried about the ever-increasing utility tariffs which do not match the rate of increase in income, and also concerned about the poor macro-economic performance and the technical operational inefficiencies of the utility companies which have contributed greatly to the frequent hikes in tariffs.”

Briefing journalists after the meeting the Executive Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Samuel Sarpong said the increment could have taken effect from October, but it took a number of factors into consideration including public hearings hence it starting yesterday

 By Francis Asamoah Tuffour    

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