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Opinions of Thursday, 23 June 2016

Columnist: Daily Guide

Tariff theatricals

President John Mahama is at it again. He has assured his compatriots that the electricity tariff hike described by most Ghanaians as killing, would be scaled down on July 1.

This assurance, rather than elate Ghanaians, is being taken with a pinch of salt because they have been bitten once and so must expectedly be twice shy.

The president, before the unfurling of the killer tariff hike, had told his compatriots that they must be ready to pay more if they were desirous of having regular supply of electricity. Not long after that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) went for the kill, enraging Ghanaians for the unprecedented tariff hike.

They were soon to be abandoned by government leaving them to battle it out with disappointed and frustrated Ghanaians.

Ghanaians would be interested in finding out what informed the announcement to scale down the tariff. The announcement, at this time of the year when elections are approaching, is geared towards shoring the president’s dwindled political fortunes.

If that is the reason then the decision lacks sincerity, a quality which unfortunately most Ghanaians do not associate with the presidency. We have had cause in previous editorials to lament the lack of this attribute in governance under the current crop of politicians: we went ahead to explain that the absence of this quality would make it difficult, almost impossible, for government to convince Ghanaians about policies or decisions. We have not been wrong. Today most Ghanaians are hardly convinced about announcements from government; these are mostly regarded as propaganda stuff unworthy of consideration.

The tariff reduction announcement was followed by an expected hushed taunting by most people who heard it. They asked, ‘why now?’

We have the feeling therefore that the tariff hike could have been avoided by government. Otherwise, why is it being shelved now? A negligible government decision which has cost many Ghanaians their jobs and investments is not one to be countenanced without a sneer.

Governance is about sincerity and winning the confidence of the people. When as a result of empirical evidence people no longer believe in their government, the president should find out what has gone wrong with a view to making the necessary amends.

Propaganda, when it becomes unbridled and assumes extensive quantum, takes off all the traits of deference from governance, turning it almost into a laughing stock.

We are told that the ECG is unaware about the July 1 tariff scale-down which makes the issue even dodgy. We would have thought that government had finalised arrangements regarding the subject under review before such an announcement which was made when the president, in continuation of his ‘accounting to the people’ tour, touched base with Madina.

We would be interested in knowing what percentage reduction to expect from the Election 2016 goody. Perhaps the reduction details would be handled at the Flagstaff House – the ECG no longer expected to do a good job. After all, it has been accused of doing the NPP bidding.