27 January 2016

Ghana: New Sachet Water Price Is Not Justifiable!

editorial

The Water sachet Producers Association of Ghana has indicated its intention to increase the unit price of the product, from the current 20 pesewas to 30 pesewas.

According to the association, cost of production has shot up, following the recent increase in fuel, electricity and water tariffs. Indeed, following the quantum jump in the utility tariffs, industries are virtually on their knees, struggling to break even.

As indicated by the water producers, their production hinges on water, electricity and fuel, and if prices of these essential ingredients have gone up, naturally they have the right to also adjust their prices accordingly.

However, The Chronicle does not think the water producers can justify their intended increment, because they have, for some time now, forced their consumers to buy the product above the officially approved prices.

The last time the price was adjusted, consumers were asked to pay 15 pesewas as unit price for the commodity. However, because of the scarcity of the 5 pesewas coin, the price was rounded up to 20GP.

This means the poor consumers through no fault of theirs, have been compelled to buy the commodity above the officially approved prices. The big question begging for answer is - did the water producers take into consideration the windfall profit they made before arriving at the 30 pesewas they intend to charge the same consumers.

At a news conference held in Accra yesterday to sensitize the public about the imminent increment, journalists asked these water sachet producers whether they would slash down the price, should water and electricity tariffs be reduced, but they were not forthcoming with precise answers.

They could equally not tell the journalists whether they took into consideration the extra 5 pesewas consumers were paying for their products before arriving at the 30 pesewas, as the new price.

It is instructive to note that it is not only water sachet producers that are in this business of always making windfalls at the expense of consumers. The Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU) is also fond of pulling a fast one on passengers.

The last time fuel prices were increased last year, the union and other transport organizations were fast in adjusting lorry fares. Since then, prices of fuel have gone down more than 30%, but the fares remained the same. However when fuel prices were adjusted recently, they were the first to start agitating for an increase in transport fares.

It is increasingly becoming clear that because consumers do not have any strong association to champion their cause, they are always at the mercy of some of these well-organized unions.

The Chronicle is, therefore, calling on the government to intervene as it did in the case of the transport unions and prevent the new price of sachet water from being slapped on consumers. It is unfair for consumers to be called upon to pay more for sachet water when they are already paying beyond the stipulated price.

The Chronicle is also calling on Ghanaians to fully support Mr. Kofi Kapito's Consumer Protection Agency to ensure that it becomes the mouth piece of all consumers. This, coupled with inputs from the government, is the only way the rights of consumers can be properly protected in this country. The Chronicle insists that 30Gp for sachet water is not justifiable.

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