Govt rejects calls to scrap energy levy, but amenable to utility tariff reduction

Government has rejected a request by organized labour to scrap the controversial energy sector levy which has resulted in a 28 percent hike in fuel prices.

Government has been heavily criticized for introducing the levy.

At a crucial meeting between government and the TUC at the Flagstaff House today, the two parties disagreed on how to cushion workers against the shocks of the recent fuel price and utility tariff hikes.

This second meeting between the two sides after last week’s meeting was attended by Kofi Asamoah of TUC, Solomon Kotei of ICU and three other delegates from Organised Labour. There was Employment Minister Haruna Iddrisu, officials from the Petroleum Ministry and some presidential staffers

Joy News’ Joseph Opoku Gakpo who has been gleaning information says the recent increase in water tariff by 67.2% and electricity by 59.2% which was announced by the PURC last month came up for discussion.

Organised Labour is demanding that government cuts down this increase to only 50 percent across board for both water and electricity.

They want the current electricity tariff reduced by 9.2 percent and water reduced by 17.2 percent.

Also, they want the energy levy that was introduced by government which saw the prices of fuel rise by around 28 percent scrapped.

Joseph however reported that government rejected outright the call for the scrapping of the Energy Levy, meaning government is not ready to reduce the prices of fuel despite a 12-year low on prices of petroleum products on the international market.

Abraham Koomson of Ghana Federation of Labour
On the water and electricity, Joy News sources in the meeting say government agreed that it can afford to reduce the new tariffs to 54 percent.

So, the four percent difference is the sticky point that appears to have stalled the discussions. The two sides are expected to reconvene again next week Thursday to continue with the negotiations.

Organized Labour had announced that on Tuesday 19th January 2016 and Wednesday, 20th January 2016, there will be demonstrations and picketing at the national level and all regional capitals.

Labour is also planning to go ahead with nationwide strike between Thursday, 21st January 2016 and Friday, 22nd January 2016.

Solomon Kotei of the Industrial and Commercial Workers Union told Joy News they are dissatisfied with government’s outright rejection of calls for the scrapping of the energy levy.

“Labour will tomorrow (Friday) make a firm stand as to what exactly will happen to us,” he stated.

Secretary General of Ghana Federation of Labour Abraham Koomson concurred with Mr. Kotei.

He said tomorrow’s meeting would afford the leadership the opportunity to communicate the outcome of today’s meeting to their members. This would pave way for rolling out labour’s roadmap to get government to take measures that would cushion Ghanaians.

He accused government of acting in bad faith after it went ahead to increase utility tariffs whilst negotiations were ongoing. This was in effect telling labour that “you can go to hell”.

“If the government cannot feel it, private investors (on the other hand) are going to really suffer, and if we don’t act and allow this fuel thing to remain, we are going to lose members,” Mr. Koomson said.

Story by Ghana|| IE

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