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Opinions of Friday, 17 June 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

Politics of ECG bills

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Until recently utility bills were insulated from politics hardly considered a campaign issue. Today it is part of the daily regimen of radio station morning shows with so-called serial callers active in their smelly efforts at defending the high tariffs.

Consumers of electricity hardly thought about what they paid for the services rendered by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG). Not so any longer as these same persons dread determining what bill awaits them at the end of the month – if theirs is the post-paid type.

As for the pre-paid consumers, theirs is the most lamentable. They load and lose the credit almost immediately as they are slapped with the information about their whopping indebtedness.

The allegation that electricity tariff is higher in some instances than rents is one which has attracted the attention of many social observers because that underscores more than any other, the extent to which the cost of living has become unbearable in the country.

The ECG, which has been blamed by government for the anomalous situation, is unable to adequately defend itself. Being a government agency, any defence which is unmindful about the interest of the president and his team could lead to untoward consequences on top personnel of the company. It is understandable therefore that management of the company is restricted in its public utterances leaving government players with a field day to rant.

So much dust has been thrown into the eyes of the people that it is now a full-fledged issue of local politics – the truth pushed further from the surface.

Today all manner of analysis are imputed into arguments over the high tariffs: street light levies and many others have now attracted the attention of consumers because their build-up is said to be the reason why we are paying so much. That is the state of Ghana and her electricity use today.

The skyrocketing cost of electricity in recent times is as much an issue as the useless efforts by government to smokescreen the real cause of the utility price hike.

A few days ago the Chairman of the Energy Committee of the House of Parliament, Amadu Sorogho, was overheard veneering the electricity issue.

Presenting a flawed argument, he only succeeded in raising the adrenalin level of Ghanaians. Whatever happened to the assurance by the Deputy Power Minister that very soon the status quo would be restored, a report having been submitted to the ministry on the subject?

Now in the same bracket as petrol, electricity is the most obvious source of slapping taxes to support a distressed government.

Consumers will soon unfurl their ingenuity on how to beat the ECG because most of them cannot pay the prevailing tariffs.

The ability to pay should have informed the decision to raise the tariff to the current level. When consumers cannot pay, what sense does it make to maintain the crazy status quo?

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