Ghana?s cabinet has stopped state-run major utility companies, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Water Company (GWCL), from disconnecting their services to hospitals and educational institutions.
A statement signed on behalf of the Minister of Education by the deputy minister in charge of Pre- Tertiary Education, Alex Kyeremeh, said the directive was in view of the critical services provided by these institutions, the state-run Ghanaian Times reported here Friday.
?Government has not taken any decision for students in tertiary institutions to pay utility bills in the next academic year.
?As such, government policy regarding subsidy on water and electricity for tertiary students has not changed,? the statement added.
This was in apparent rebuttal of rumors that students of tertiary institutions would be made to pay for electricity and water they consume.
It said the Minister of Education, Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, while speaking at a Campus Connect program at the Accra Polytechnic on Wednesday, April 29, this year, asked students to disregard such rumors about the utility bills.
The statement said the minister?s address had been copied to the leadership of the National Union of Ghana Students who demanded an official letter to support what she said.
As a result of this new development, the University Students Association of Ghana (USAG) has called off an intended strike action, according to a statement issued to local media by the association and signed by its president, Osei Poku Derrick, and Nana Out Darko, Press and International Relations Secretary.
?USAG wants to call on all SRCs (Student Representative Councils) and various coalitions formed to call off their intended demonstration since the calls by the mother union, USAG, has been upheld by the government,? the statement said.
Minister of Finance and Economic Planning Seth Terkper on Wednesday said public tertiary educational institutions were in arrears in utility bills amounting to 30 million Ghana Cedis or 8.3 million US dollars.
The minister was speaking at a public lecture on the ?Challenges and Experiences of Managing the Economy of Ghana? organized by the University of Cape Coast in the Central Region, some 145 km west of the national capital, as part of a program by the Alumni of the university.
Terkper gave a breakdown of the amounts of electricity and water bills owed by the country?s public universities and other tertiary institutions, and called for a holistic view of who should pay for utility consumption of private sector operatives on the campuses.
Terkper said electricity access rate increased from 72 percent in 2013 to 76 percent in 2014, and mentioned some interventions as the completion of the Bui Dam, with a capacity to generate 400 megawatts of electricity.
Both the ECG and GWCL have embarked on a nationwide exercise to disconnect their services to all government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) for unpaid bills.
According to the GWCL, the MDAs are in utility arrears of more than 106 million Ghana Cedis or 29.4 million US dollars as at the end of 2014.
The Chief Manager of the GWCL in charge of Public Relations, Michael Agyeman told local media late April the state agencies? indebtedness had become a financial constraint on the company.
Giving reasons to the indebtedness of th MDAs, Agyeman said the GWCL previously computed the cost of water consumed by the MDAs and submitted the bill to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning to pay.
However, he said in 2013, the government decided not to pay the water bills of the MDAs but asked the agencies to pay their own bills from their budgetary allocations. Enditem