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Opinions of Saturday, 12 December 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide Network

Falling real incomes

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There is a countrywide opprobrium against what has mockingly been described as killer utility price hikes.

We saw the hikes coming even before the final nod. When President John Mahama said Ghanaians should be prepared to pay more for electricity if they want steady supply of the energy source, it was glaring that he had made up his mind to resort to that channel to raise money to shore up the depleted government kitty.

When the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) embarked on a nationwide exercise to tap the position of Ghanaians about proposed hikes in electricity and water tariffs, we could not but see it as a useless venture. After all, the president had made up his mind about that course.

We are pained that Ghanaians are being made to suffer the fallouts of the mismanagement of the economy, the truth being that had things been managed differently we would not have had to traverse along this path. Unfortunately government, which is responsible for the state in which Ghanaians find themselves today, is undoubtedly not ready to change course, insistent that its modules are right. Using the same module would lead to the same result. In as much as corruption and a reckless management of the economy remain characteristics of the government, Ghanaians would continue to witness depleting real incomes. The repercussions of the hikes are dire, the most likely being retrenchment of workers.

The retrenchment of workers by distressed companies in the private sector, occasioned by the hikes, would definitely lead to the dependants of such persons having their sources of provisions of their lifelines cut. And with such severance comes depression and sometimes fatalities.

The anger of the people in the wake of the price hikes is as understandable as it is justifiable: their confidence in the government has waned. They no longer see the government as one sensitive to their plight.

Even more intriguing is the fact that the truth about it all is characteristically shrouded in lies and insulting propaganda. The economy has been so badly managed that the nation’s currency is among one the worst performers on the global scene.

The direct effect of this reality is what has informed the close to a dozen times utility price hikes within a few years.

It is easily fathomable that with the current ailing state of the economy and the currency in particular, we have not come to the end of the rising hikes yet.

The government, we can claim, has been pushed to the wall and the most natural reaction under the circumstances is for it to push the burden to the people, regardless of the consequences.

Some are wondering what the situation would have been had oil not been part of the equation and we were left with just the traditional exports.

The composition of the story has only just begun. Government is clueless about the solution, continuously scratching its head for an ever elusive solution. As for Ghanaians the burden will always be pushed to them.

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