The leadership of the Private University Students Association of Ghana and the entire PUSAG fraternity is saddened, shocked and disappointed at the recent astronomical hikes in utility tariffs as announced by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) on December 7, 2015 and expected to take effect on 14th December. We find this development as not only unacceptable but also cruel and for that matter absolutely condemnable by all well meaning Ghanaians.
There have been indiscriminate increments in utility tariffs over the years under the incumbent government’s administration. We want to state emphatically that, the recent proposal of upward adjustment in utility tariffs by utility service providers is outrageous and it is by no means contributing positively to the social wellbeing of Ghana’s citizens. Without hesitation therefore, PUSAG unreservedly condemns this severe increment and also wishes to, by this statement, call on the ruling government and the PURC to as a matter of urgency, take the necessary steps to halt this killer move.
We the students of Private Universities want to bring to the notice of the government, PURC and all other stakeholders that matters that, the citizens of this country have been expecting a decrease in utility tariffs since we do not even get enough power at home for domestic activities which requires electricity as a result of “dumsor” and not an increment. In some parts of the country, citizens gets water running through their taps at most three times a week which is outrageous and are not in any case expecting utility tariffs to hike up but rather a decrement.
However, we find the excuses given by government officials and the PURC desperate and failing attempt to justify these killer hikes as not only pathetic but also annoying and incompetently absurd which should be thrown to the dogs. According to the statement issued by the PRO of the PURC, “increment in water utility is driven by chemical and power purchase costs”. Again the Commission considering factors such as consumer interest and economic development of the country is fallacious. In as much as consumers require quality services from the utility service providers, we also expect a reasonable cost for these services not “outrageous costs”. It is also clear that, the consumer interest was looked at from the service providers angle and not the interest of consumers as in what by will, consumers want to pay.
Sometime in 2014, we witnessed similar outrageous increments in utility tariffs with the excuse that it was a necessary evil if we wanted an improved service. Ghanaians reluctantly accepted this excuse and accordingly agreed to bear the brunt. However, the situation never gets improved as promised. In fact, it had rather moved from bad to worse; with many businesses forced to sack workers because they can’t break-even let alone to talk about making profit. Meanwhile, due to the economic mismanagement we are seeing today, cost of doing business here in Ghana has ballooned beyond reasonable imagination. It is therefore not surprising that most of these businesses have also completely collapsed due to this unending dumsor with many others at the verge of collapsing.
Educational institutions and students for that matter are also unable to survival well and cope with their academics amidst the energy crisis and these increments. We, the students of Private Universities are expected to be slapped with an upward adjustment in School and hostels fees. Government has scrapped off most of the existing subsidies in the education sector for want of the necessary wherewithal to sustain them. We find this and more, as a betrayal of trust by the government that claims to be a caring one. How can a rational government think that Ghanaians would be ready to pay more for services they don’t enjoy? As we speak, the negative impacts of the energy crisis on individuals and businesses cannot be overestimated. So the last thing Ghanaians expect from this government and the managers of the Ghanaian economy is a further slap on them by way of being compelled to pay more services that never get improved.
We wish to humbly tell His Excellency the President and the government that enough is enough. Ghanaians have tolerated this vicious cycle of ineptitude and governance excesses for far too long and cannot continue on this accord. We have run out of patience. Government must wake up from its long slumber and come to terms with the factual realities confronting the citizenry. The continuous decision of the government on such matters of which the utility is no exemption cautions Ghanaians about the kind of government we have as a people.
We also want to suggest to the government that, the essence of leadership is change and growth. Therefore in order to assess its progress as a government, it is required to assess the change and growth in the standards of living of the citizenry and not upward adjustment of utility tariffs. This approach will give government a clear notification of the impacts it has made in the lives of the people.
PUSAG wishes to remind the ruling government and the managers of the Ghanaian economy of their 2008 and 2012 electoral promise to build a better Ghana. A Ghana, with several opportunities that would restore hope and confidence in all. However, the exact opposition is what we are seeing today. Four years of dumsor and still counting cannot happen in a “better Ghana”. In fact, desperation, disappointment and hopelessness is the lot of the citizenry under current presidency. The least said about graduate unemployment which has now assumed legendary levels, the better. So we ask; is this the so called “better Ghana” we were promised? There is this popular adage in Akan that, “if you have nothing for your in-law, you have no reason to steal from her”.
We wish to conclude by expressing hope and confidence that the government and the PURC would give serious considerations to the critical issues we have raised in this statement and act accordingly for the love of God and country.
Long Live PUSAG
Long Live Students Struggle
Long Live Ghana
Francis Kwabena Asante
Media Relations Director, PUSAG