Picture above:James Avedzi – Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament
Question of the week: why can’t members of Parliament who earn more money than workers pay their own utility bills Hon. James Avedzi
Chairman of the Finance Committee of Parliament says managers of Ghana’s economy cannot take the flak for the high cost of living in the country.
James Avedzi told a panel on Ghana Connect Programme on Joy FM the days when government bore part of the cost of providing fuel and utilities were over and Ghanaians must brace up for the new challenge of paying for the full cost of service provided them.
He said government has given workers enough money under Single Spine and they must be able to pay for their own electricity and fuel under the new no subsidy policy being implemented by government.
He was contributing to discussion about the high cost of living occasioned by the increase in prices of utilities and fuel.
As part of an IMF programme, government was expected to remove subsidies on all service provided to consumers in Ghana.
On July 1, prices of fuel were increased. So too were the prices of electricity and water. Water went up by 15 percent whilst electricity saw a 51 per cent deferred hike. That of insurance also went up by some 300 percent.
The cumulative effect of all these is the high cost of living in the country.
Joy News’ Kwakye Afreh Nuamah who visited some of the major markets in the capital said prices have gone up twice what it used to be.
The prices of fingers of plantain, lettuce, vegetables, gari have all gone.
Most of the market women have attributed the increase in prices to the high cost of transportation.
Panelists of the Ghana Connect programme are feeling the pinch of the harsh economic realities.
One of them said the problem facing the country is nothing but poor management of the economy.
She does not understand why an economy touted in 2008 as one of the best performing economies in the world would suddenly dissipate into oblivion and become the reference point of economies that have not worked.
She would not accept the IMF bailout conditionalities as sufficient reason for the collective suffering many Ghanaians have been introduced to.
She said if government had managed the economy well, it would not have gone to IMF for a bailout in the first place.
“Government must govern,” she said charging policy makers to adopt policies that work and not the one that will make them feel comfortable.
But James Avedzi said the problem is not about poor management of the economy.
“I share the concerns of the panel members. This is a situation that we are in as a country. Many things have happened in the past few years.
He admitted Ghana was on top in 2008 but was quick to add that between 2008 and now a lot of things have happened.
“The issue is that in the past when prices of utilities were to be increased, government absorbed the difference so consumers did not feel the impact as we are doing now but the new policy is that government has come to a situation that it could no more absorb the utility hikes anymore,” he explained.
He said having attained a lower middle income status the country can no more accept grants and bilateral support from the World Bank and other institutions.
He said the implementation of the Single Spine Salary Structure has provided civil servants with more money and they should do well by paying for their own utilities.
“It is not a management failure. We as citizens what can we do to ensure .
“We have given you more money; pay for your own utilities,” he said. This cannot be a management failure”.