It is now public knowledge that the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has increased the average end-user tariff for electricity by 27.15 per cent and water by 21.55 per cent, whereas Weighted Average Cost of Gasis pegged at GH¢44, all to take effect from September 1, 2022.
It is important to note that the tariffs will be adjusted quarterly between the effective date and 2025.
As a departure from the norm regarding electricity tariffs, this time, small- and medium-scale businesses like hairdresser’s salons, barber’s, tailoring and dress-making shops; cold stores, and chop bars, previously charged commercial rates, will pay lower tariffs than the residential consumer class.
The Ghanaian Times applauds the PURC for giving considerable thought to the role of small businesses in the country’s economic development, particularly with regard to the creation and preservation of jobs and livelihoods.
As expected, there have been reactions to the increases in tariffs from various sources and hopefully more of such reactions will continue to pour in for some time.
Some persons applaud the PURC for setting such tariffs, viewed against the background that the utility providers in May, this year, proposed increases starting from 37 per cent to more than 300 per cent, which was specifically proposed by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL).
However, others describe the reviewed tariffs as “outrageous”, explaining that they are not in agreement with the harsh economic conditions currently in the country.
Much as it is the wish of the Ghanaian Times that the utility service providers would remain in operations because of their importance to the running of the country’s economy, the paper thinks the concerns of those describing the rates as outrageous must not be dismissed.
These worried consumers, particularly small business owners, are complaining of low patronage which makes it even difficult for them to pay the current bills and as such deserve some sympathy.
To them if the economic conditions persist, they could even be thrown out of business.
Even with those sure of their earnings such as salaried workers, the increases would further erode their purchasing power even amid judicious use of utility.
Therefore, the Ghanaian Times joins the appeal to the PURC to rethink its proposed quarterly review of tariffs such that domestic consumers and small businesses would not be over-burdened.
Clearly the utility service providers are constrained but some of the problems can be laid on their own doorstep.
They should check the corrupt practices within such as procurement deals that inflate cost of production and those without, like their workers conniving with consumers to short-change the companies, which deny them good amount of revenue.
Also, they should check the theft by consumers.
Besides, they should fix the waste in the system, particularly regarding treated water allowed to go to waste.
Reports have it that even when some public-spirited individuals contact the GWCL offices to inform them about water leakages, in some cases, they fail to respond.
Even where they respond, they come after days when volumes of water have already flowed away or they come to do sloppy work, which means in no time, the problem recur.