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The government has agreed to provide relief for lifeline consumers of electricity and the vulnerable with effect from February 1, as it has reached a deal with organised labour over the increases in utility tariffs.

The agreement, which is expected to reduce tension on the labour front, provides that customers within the consumption range of zero to 50 units will have their tariffs reduced from the present 59 per cent to 45 per cent, while consumers within the range of 51 to 300 units will have theirs reduced to 50 per cent.

All tariffs for the other consumption bands remain unchanged.

The parties also agreed to continue discussions on the 67 per cent increase in water tariffs.

However, the Energy Sector Levies Act, which was one of the reasons that sent Ghanaian workers onto the streets in protest, will stay.

Nevertheless, organised labour said it would continue with engagements with the government over that act.

Automatic tariff adjustment

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) read out to journalists by the Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Mr Haruna Iddrisu, at the end of the negotiations at the Flagstaff House also touched on the automatic tariff adjustment.

“As agreed in 2013, the stakeholders have renewed their commitment to the implementation of the automatic tariff adjustment to avoid the large increases associated with non-implementation and its effect on incomes of households and businesses,” it said.

Besides, the parties agreed that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) should, within two weeks, rectify all anomalies that had characterised the utility tariff adjustments.

Responses

In his comment, the Secretary-General of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Mr Kofi Asamoah, expressed satisfaction with the development so far but said the petroleum levy needed to be looked at again.

“I hereby confirm conclusions reached with the government, the employers association and the AGI with regard to the tariffs announced by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission.

“We also confirm the fact that we will continue engagement on the other outstanding issues like water and the levies,” he said.

The President of the Ghana Employers Association, Mr Terence Darko, also said his outfit looked forward to a stable working environment following the decisions reached.


The AGI President, Mr James Asare-Adjei, stated that the consensus building approach to the issues was the best under the circumstances.

“What industry is looking forward to is micro-economic stability, so that industry can plan,” he added.

Background

Labour raised serious concerns following upward adjustments in utility tariffs and petroleum prices.

A joint negotiation committee comprising the government, organised labour and other social partners was constituted to address the concerns of the workers.

In the course of the negotiations, Organised Labour took to the streets in Accra and other regional capitals in demonstration as part of a road map that would have led to a strike if the government had refused to address their concerns.

Other members of the government negotiating team were the Minister of Finance, Mr Seth Terkper; a Minister of State at the Presidency, Mr Elvis Afriyie-Ankrah, and the Deputy Minister of Power, Mr John Jinapor.
Source: Graphic

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