The American Chamber of Commerce, Ghana (AmCham) is backing the Association of Ghana’s industry call on the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to end discrimination in water tariffs.
According to the chamber, the recent upward tariff adjustments and the reclassification of Bottled Water and Beverage producers to the Commercial (Special Commercial) category are unfair and place an undue burden on companies.
“We are of the opinion that the recent upward tariff adjustments and the reclassification of Bottled Water and Beverage producers to the Commercial (Special Commercial) category are unfair and place an undue burden on companies”, it said in a statement signed by its Executive Secretary, Simon Madjie.
It therefore called on the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission to review its decision to place bottled water and drink producers in a new category that attracts higher tariffs, adding, “We are of the persuasion that maintaining the sector in the Industry category as it has always been will ensure equity and helps dismiss perceived discrimination”.
Though the Chamber appreciates the country’s current economic situation and the need for utility companies to adjust prices to reflect the changes in the cost of production and inflation, it stated that some of these decisions reaffirm the perceived discrimination in the allocation of water tariffs.
“Recatorizing Bottled Water and Beverage producers with a 172% tariff increment (¢30.00/1000L) is astronomical and unfair. This increment, coupled with increasing inflation, currency fluctuations, the new 21.9% VAT rate, and the proposed increments in Excise Duty rates, is disincentivizing and puts companies in a precarious situation”, it mentioned.
Furthermore, it pointed out that industry is also currently baring the shocks and challenges posed by prevailing local and global issues, and “we deem it unfair the seeming shifting of economic burdens to companies already making tremendous efforts to keep their operation running to sustain the economy”.
“Maintaining employment is vital to the country’s economic recovery efforts. But current trends negatively impact the profitability of companies and could lead to massive job cuts if pragmatic steps are not taken to address the constant increase in the cost of doing business”, it added.
The Chamber also backed earlier calls from the AGI to the PURC to make public the actual cost of service for each consumer category for transparency and fairness.
“As an organisation representing companies with operations in the Bottled Water and Beverage Industry, the Chamber is convinced that it is prudent to revise this reclassification and also ask the PURC to conform to its advertised rates as the new February  tariff increase of 48% for industry is higher than their earlier announced average increment of 8%”.
“Our member companies are high-revenue customers of the Ghana Water Company, and addressing these issues will ensure constant revenue for the utility company”, it explained.
AmCham also called for further dialogues between the PURC and our member companies to resolve these issues in the interest of all stakeholders to protect businesses, ensure jobs and help maintain a favorable business environment to boost investments.