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General News Tue, 31 Jan 2006

New utility tariffs out tomorrow

New utility tariffs are expected to take effect from February this year a source at the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) said.

The new tariffs, which are likely to be announced this week, followed proposals submitted by the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), and the Volta River Authority (VRA).

The three utility companies have proposed increases in tariffs ranging between 18 and 78 per cent for this year to take effect from February 1, 2006.

The ECG proposed to increase tariffs by between 35 per cent and 78 per cent, the VRA is asking for a 34 per cent increase and the GWCL is requesting for an 18 per increase.

The proposals for the tariffs increases by three utility companies are, however, subject to approval by the Public Utilities regulatory Commission (PURC).

The three utility companies, which submitted their proposals to the PURC in December 2005 for consideration and approval, mentioned the increases in the price of crude oil, high production cost and the need for investment to expand their operation and to ensure efficient service delivery as some of the justifications for the tariff increases.

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Executive Secretary of the PURC, Stephen Adu, also confirmed that the commission had received proposals for tariffs adjustments from the three utility companies.

He however refused to be drawn into confirming the levels of increment and the date for the new tariffs to take effect. Mr Adu explained that the proposals were being subjected to analysis to ascertain the justifications being cited by the utility companies for the increases in tariffs.

He said the PURC has been organizing public consultations throughout the country to sensitize the public to the issues. Some consumers have, however dismissed the justifications by the three utility companies for their proposals, saying their poor service delivery did not merit such increases.

They cited frequent power outages and water shortages in many parts of the country to buttress their assertions that proposed tariffs increases by the utility companies were unjustified.

President of the Ghana National Association of Consumers, Madam Susanne Prince Boateng said any increase in tariffs would affect businesses and investments, explaining that the frequent power cuts being experienced in the country meant businesses had to close down or incurred more expenditure on workers overtime when power is restored.

She insists that utility companies need to improve on the quality of their services before asking for more tariffs and that consumer has been taken for granted for far too long.

Source: Daily Graphic
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