Hoteliers demand immediate reduction in water tariffs
The Ghana Hotels Association and Ghana Progressive Hotels Association say the high tariffs on water was highly affecting their operational cost and putting many of the players in huge debts.
According to the industry players, the actions and inactions of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has contributed to the huge debts being incurred by the operators in the hospitality industry.
Speaking at a press conference in Accra on Tuesday, August 28, 2023, the National President of the association, Dr. Edward Ackah Nyamike, said the woes of the hotels started in January 2023 when the PURC announced an 8.3 per cent upward adjustment in water tariff effective February 1, 2023.
He explained that the 8.3 per cent adjustment implied an increase in water tariff from approximately GHC11.2 per cubic meter of water to approximately GHC12.3.
However, he noted, “When hotels received their water bills for February 2023, their tariff per cubic meter of water was GHC30, indicating a whopping 167% increase as against the 8.3% announced by the PURC.”
Dr. Nyamike explained that the association petitioned the regulatory body following the anomalies they detected in their billing.
“The PURC responded promptly to the association’s petition in a letter dated 15th March and attempted to justify the 167% increase as part of an ongoing restructuring of Ghana Water Company Ltd consumer categories.”
He said dissatisfied with the response of the PURC, the association again petitioned the regulatory body with a hint to picket at its office if the perceived erroneous billing of hoteliers was not addressed.
That, Dr. Edward added, PURC in its response to the association’s second petition invited them to a meeting on March 31, 2023.
He said after the March 31 meeting with PURC, PURC on April 5, 2023, wrote them a letter which they admitted that the astronomical rise in the billing came about as a result of misclassification in the implementation of the tariff.
In addition, he said, PURC then issued a directive to the GWCL to revert all non-residential customers misclassified as ‘other commercial’ back to non-residential consumer category.
Dr. Nyamike further added that PURC also directed the GWCL not to disconnect customers in the non-residential and other commercial categories with disputed bills from supply until completion of investigations into the issue.
He noted that whilst the association was waiting for the GWCL to comply with the PURC’s directive to revert their categorisation, PURC again announced new increment in tariffs and classified them (hoteliers) as commercial category, a situation the association said, came to them as a big surprise.
He has, therefore, called on PURC to act on its earlier directive to the Ghana Water Company Limited to revert their bills for the months of February, March, April and May to the right category as the wrong classification had created huge debts for its members.
Similarly, the association also called on the government to scrap the COVID-19 Health Recovery Levy of 1% on their operations since the global health emergency has come to an end.
Dr. Nyamike further raised concerns over the government’s decisions to astronomically increase the property rates for hoteliers, saying “In an economy where businesses are struggling to survive, the astronomical increases in property rates with no reference to the old existing rates is very worrying and troubling.”
The association also called on the Roads and Highway Ministry to prioritise major highways that lead to some tourist destinations in order to attract more tourists to the country.
He said due to the deplorable states of some major roads to tourist destinations, it has affected visits to such places, hence affecting occupancy of hotels in such regions, citing the Accra-Cape Coast road as an example of bad road that needed upgrade.
Additionally, Dr. Nyamike also expressed the concern that the association and its sister associations had been left out in the disbursement of the 1% Tourism Development Fund, set up in 2012 to help develop the industry.
“To put it more bluntly, the administration of the Tourism Development Fund has denied Tourism Trade Associations the needed financial support to be effective partners in the Public Private Sector collaboration space,” he said.
The association after its press conference petitioned the PURC to reconsider its decision to reclasiffy hoteliers under the commercial category in the water billing.