USAG To Join Nationwide Protest Over Utility Tariff Hikes

File Photo

File Photo

The University Students’ Association of Ghana (USAG) has said it is in full support and ready to join organised labour in taking to the streets if government fails to heed calls to reverse the recently introduced taxes and utility tariff hikes, which they described as “anti-social undemocratic policies, and draconian measures”.

In a press statement signed by the President of USAG Henry Nkosuo Boakye and the Information and International Relations Secretary, Henry Akuffo Asiedu, the university student body expressed displeasure with government’s decision and said there can never be any justification for the increases.

The statement said it associates itself entirely with the concerns articulated by organised labour, and indicated that it is prepared with the over-400,000 university students in the country to take an active part in their impending industrial action.

According to the statement: “Students are already overburdened with a regime of unbearable cost for education that has forced a lot of students to defer their programmes. Those who cannot cope with the situation are also dropping out. School fees are at all time high, which is causing a lot of discomfort to parents and guardians”.

The Association has also noted that businesses are collapsing because of the unending energy crisis and government’s inability to stabilise the economy.

In the midst of these difficulties, they said, they expected government to have acted to show concern. “However, that does not appear to be the concern and priority of this current government — which is bent on draining our already-dry pockets with these unwarranted hikes in utility bills and taxes.”

They disclosed that: “For the first time in the history of this country, private universities have been slapped with a wanton 25% corporate tax by this very government; a development that has significantly increased the cost of private tertiary education in the country”.

The leadership of USAG noted that given how critical education is to every economy, they least expected government to think of taxing it. They said what is even more worrying is that all these taxes are not being put to good use so as to benefit the country and its citizens.

The press statement further advised government to reconsider these “anti-social undemocratic policies and draconian measures, if indeed it has the interest of ordinary Ghanaians at heart.

“Government does not have to tax everything including education simply because it wants to raise enough revenue to support development.”

On the payment of utility bills to public tertiary institutions, it took strong resistance from the student-front to stop universities from levying students after government failed its promise to pay the outstanding arrears.

“As we speak, our checks have revealed that government has since defaulted in paying these monies.”

USAG has therefore issued a final ultimatum for government to pay the outstanding arrears or face the wrath of Ghana’s students.

“It is our hope that President Mahama will listen to the cry of ordinary students and act in an appropriate and timely manner to protect our fundamental educational rights and freedoms for the love of God and the country,” the statement concluded.

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