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Opinions of Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Columnist: Daily Guide Network

Masses decry utility price hikes


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Very soon schools will reopen as a major utility price hike stares parents in the face. These realities have cast a long shadow over the country as Ghanaians already under pressure from a declining purchasing power occasioned by a downward spiraling economy, wonder what they can do with their lives.

It is not surprising that in all the regions visited so far by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to sample the opinions of Ghanaians regarding the imminent utility price hikes, the Commission continues to attract negative responses from peeved Ghanaians.

We are tempted to point out that there is no need to undertake any sampling, given the glaring public opprobrium about the biting economic realities in the country and now a killer 100 percent hike in the utility tariffs.

Be it as it may, the PURC must record such positions for record purposes. It is only on that score do we see the sense in such sampling.

We are edging towards a state where we can comfortably describe the individual situation of most Ghanaians as desperate.

More and more kids are dropping out of school. Education is becoming elusive to most Ghanaian children, some of whose parents are under the biting circumstances, compelled to have these kids work to support the family budget.

Of what use will it be when the consumers really cannot foot the new hikes? This is a reality those in-charge of taking the final decisions must consider in their sober moments even before going into the boardrooms.

The ultimate plan to privatise the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) by government is gaining currency in town. The preparation of the minds of Ghanaians towards an imminent utility tariff hike, many are speculating, could be a precursor for an eventual privatization of the ECG. Even before we reach that bridge the reprehension about that transaction is already widespread.

We are unable to fathom the sense in taking the ECG along such a tangent. With the generation and distribution of electricity already as it were, in tatters, talking about tariff hikes at this time can expectedly get on the nerves of citizens.

Wouldn’t one person at the helm appreciate the state of the nation and cause a change of heart about how the country is being run?

Those in-charge are not getting it. So many hikes in tariffs have been effected in the past months and years without any corresponding improvement in service provision. Each hike was preceded by promises of improvements but after many of such unfulfilled pledges, Ghanaians are genuinely skeptical, now that another such upward movement is looming.

Really things are hard. The power outages have taken sufficient toll on the performance of both the private and the public sectors. As for the former many have lost their jobs as a result of the biting energy phenomenon. Even as the hikes stare us directly in the face, many more would lose their jobs, no matter how smart management of such companies could be.

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