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Business News of Friday, 7 August 2020


ICU lauds govt over free electricity, water extension

The Industrial Workers Union (ICU) has commended government for taking further initiatives in covering water and electricity bills of low-income consumers for an additional 3 months starting July, as part of measures to reduce the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic on the citizenry.

In an interview with this reporter, General Secretary of the ICU, Mr Solomon Kotei said the extension of utility bills was a good message to employees especially those who had to lose their jobs as a result of the pandemic.

It will be recalled that the Union proposed an extension of the utility tariffs before the Mid-year budget was presented to Parliament.

“ICU has always argued that we are unable to pull employers to increase the salary rate as a result if employees do not get to pay water and electricity bills, it comes as a margin of relief to the Ghanaian worker”, he emphasized.

The ICU General Secretary further indicated that the extension of front liners allowances should be kept high and added that the government needs to be applauded for the efforts they put in assisting private sector employees.

Mr Kotei acknowledged government’s efforts in empathizing the situation adding that even though some institutions had not paid social security and PAYE due to COVID-19, government had relaxed measures to control such activities.

“Every government will not joke with its revenue operators but in the system now, most institutions have failed to pay social security, PAYE and we don’t find the GRA going after them because of COVID-19, this shows how government is empathizing the situation”, he highlighted.

Government announced an electricity subsidy programme in early April.

Existing energy subsidies had long been the subject of policy debates: the high costs were often not worth the benefits, especially since it tended to accrue to wealthier households, and subsidies could reduce productivity due to increased power outages.

Some countries had offered free or reduced-price electricity as a stimulus measure during the pandemic. The United States utilities had not gone that far, but many were forgiving fees on late payments and had moratoria on shutoffs.

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