The Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, has made a rare criticism of the recent utility tariffs hikes on his first radio interview on the matter.
He described the hikes as "incredibly outrageous" in an interview with Joy FM on Thurday.
According to him, the increments were unjustifiable especially in an election year.
He said: “I mean you wonder if a utility rate has to go up by 150 per cent, why didn’t it go up by 20 per cent two, three years ago, 30 per cent last year and maybe 40 per cent this year to more or less achieve the same objective”
“Why have some of these institutions waited till an election year and all of a sudden we hear incredibly outrageous rates - 57, 100 per cent, 400 per cent etc… all the way to ordinary water that human beings drink.”
Spio-Grabrah also said his Ministry, which considers its self as a "stakeholder in the broad economy," was never consult prior to the utility hikes.
“We ourselves, as a Ministry of trade and Industry, consider ourselves a stakeholder in the broad economy as well as matters that affect business and industry, but at no point have we ever been called to also come before the PURC or any other public agency that wishes to revise its rate to discuss the basis for which the rates are being revised [and] the potential impact it will have on the broad economy,” he said.
According to the Trade Minister, government may think it is doing a good job by raising revenue but the effect is that, businesses could collapse as a result.
“You might think you are doing a good job by just raising revenue here or some other charge there, but you are killing the whole economy or killing the businesses that are going to bring jobs and help to create broader income and exports revenue for the economy,” he said.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in December 2015 increased price of electricity and water by 59.2 percent and 67.2 percent respectively.
The increase was met with outrage by Organised Labour and the business community.