What Is The Justification For Tariff Increase?

The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) last Thursday announced an increase in tariffs for water and electricity.
While water tariff has been increased by 1.06 per cent, consumers would have to pay 2.63 per cent more for electricity from April 1, 2015. 

Quite an insignificant amount, but at a time that the country is experiencing a power crisis, we find it strange that the PURC would sanction an increase in tariffs when services for the two amenities leave much to be desired.

In times past, the utility companies always made a case for increased tariffs so that they would be able to offer better services to consumers. However, what we find strange is the fact that in the midst of the erratic and inadequate supply, an increase has been announced.

Many businesses are crying because of inadequate supply of power; prices are going up on the market and although petrol prices are falling on the world market, the Ghanaian consumer is still not getting any reprieve.   

Yet, according to the PURC, the upward adjustment has been necessitated by the current electricity situation in the country which is making consumers spend extra on the acquisition of other alternative sources of electricity.

We find this more confusing because, if indeed, the regulatory body sees that consumers are spending more on alternative sources of electricity, then there is no justification for the increase.

We are not saying that there should not be any adjustment in utility prices but that the timing is wrong, as we are still grappling with an energy crisis and already carrying a heavy burden of resorting to alternative means to power our homes and industries at great cost.

The PURC’s assertion that the increase in tariffs is meant to preserve the current ‘load-sharing’ situation by assisting the electricity distribution companies to maintain their network and avoid an immediate collapse of the distribution network is untenable.

Ghanaians are already under much stress as a result of the power crisis and we see the latest move by the PURC as pushing the tolerance level of Ghanaians to frightening heights.

We are appealing to the Consumer Rights Protection Agency to stand up and speak for the majority of Ghanaians who are being forced to pay more for inadequate services.

The Daily Graphic believes that although the PURC did not grant the request of the utility providers in the last quarter of 2014 for increased tariffs, that is no justification for an increase when it is clear as daylight that Ghanaians are reeling from the effects of the power crisis.

Consumers deserve better treatment from the PURC, which is mandated to work on their behalf by regulating the charges of the utility providers.