THE INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERICAL WORKERS’ UNION (ICU) – GHANA has added its voice to the recent increases in utility tariffs, saying failure for a d drastic downward review will lead to several job losses. In has therefore called on the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the government to review the increases drastically or it would advise itself.
According to the union, the real increases of electricity and water ranges from 198-235 per cent in the manufacturing sector, rubbishing the 89 and 36 per cent increases in electricity and water announced by the PURC in May.
CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE has also in its possession a document that suggests that the actual adjustment in electricity tariff that was announced by the PURC for industry was actually 298 per cent and not the 89 per cent. In a petition to the Chairman of the PURC, Stephen Adu, and the Minster of Energy, Dr. Oteng Adjei warning about the possible consequences of the tariff increases, the ICU said the cumulative effect of these increase is that the manufacturing sector of the economy-textiles and garments, steel and metal and food and beverages would undoubtedly encounter operational difficulties. That, the statement added, would also affect the poor Ghanaian. “Some workers will most likely lose their jobs as against the quest for creating more jobs promised by the current government. Can this therefore be a Better Ghana Agenda promised by the government?”
Its analysis of job losses indicates that about 2,500 workers who are directly employed in the steel industry would lose their job while an additional 3,000 workers who are indirectly employed would also be out of employment. The 3,000 are mainly suppliers of steel scrap, sea shell, coke. “This means in the steel and metal industries alone, over 5,500 workers are going to lose their jobs, not to mention their dependents” , the statement explained.
Additionally, the statement signed by Gilbert Awinongya, Acting General Secretary pointed out that the once giant aluminum companies in the metal sector (Aluworks and VALCO) would compound their precarious situation.
CITY & BUSINESS GUIDE reported on Tuesday that Volta Star Textiles Limited, formerly Juapong Textile Company (JTL) had already shut down its business because it was indebted to the Electricity Company of Ghana to the tune of GH¢491,668.4 from January 2008 and May 2010. And ICU corroborated this story adding Tex Styles Ghana Limited and other textile companies which have been struggling to survive may follow suit.
Mr. Awinongya mentioned that the management of many manufacturing industries was also considering passing the costs to consumers or if it worsened, they would shut down operations.
He emphasized that the increases in consumer products would lead to higher inflation, hence rise in interest rates. The high increase in the tariffs, he noted, would also have serious impact on domestic consumers. Already, those using prepaid meters are suffering from the high costs of electricity.
“For the “Better Ghana Agenda” to be a reality and for Ghanaians to feel it in their lives, we are calling on the PURC and government to engage all stakeholders in fruitful discussions to bring down the increase to levels that will be affordable to industries and ordinary Ghanaians”. It chastised the Electricity Company of Ghana and the Ghana Water Company, saying they did not have any justification regarding the increases since it would not lead to improved services. “We wish to state that there is the need for the two service providers to urgently address the inefficiencies in their operations – that is water, illegal connections and huge outstanding bills including government portion.” On the rationale of PURC’s argument for the increase in the tariffs, Mr. Awinongya said though his outfit was not against the increment, it was worried about the increases which were not commensurate with salary levels in the country.