Analysis: Akufo-Addo’s free water, electricity package was never free

Analysis: Akufo-Addo’s free water, electricity package was never free

- Kojo Oppong Nkrumah has said that the 1% COVID-19 health levy will be used in paying the cost incurred for the free water and electricity package

- President Akufo-Addo in April 2020 during the lockdown announced the package for the less privileged

- Caretaker Finance Minister, Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu said the fiscal impact of the pandemic on the country was Ghs19billion

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo in April 2020 announced a free water and electricity package to cushion the public, especially the vulnerable families, from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

Akufo-Addo earned praise from the African community on social media when he declared that the government of Ghana would foot the water and electricity bills of all Ghanaians for April, May, and June.

Fact check: Akufo-Addo’s free water, electricity package was never free
Fact check: Akufo-Addo’s free water, electricity package was never free
Source: UGC

The president extended the free utility package only for lifeline customers when the initial package expired.

He said in his 21st address to the nation, “With the continuing difficulties occasioned by the pandemic, I want to state that government intends to continue to support the most vulnerable in our society.

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“Government will, thus, continue to pay the electricity bills for our nation’s one million active lifeline customers for the next three months, i.e. January, February, and March.

“Additionally, all one million, five hundred thousand customers of the Ghana Water Company, whose consumption is not more than five cubic metres a month, will not pay any bills for the next three months, i.e. for January, February and March.”

Fast forward, Ghanaians are being asked to pay for the cost incurred by the government for the free water and electricity they enjoyed during the lockdown and after restrictions were eased.

The Akufo-Addo administration, therefore, introduced series of taxes and levies for that purpose including the 1% COVID-19 health levy on VAT in the 2021 Budget Statement.

Information Minister, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, said when the president stated that electricity was free, it did not mean that the Independent Power Producer was “also going to say because the president has said free electricity, I won’t charge for it.”

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Speaking on Joy News’ PM Express, Oppong Nkrumah said the utility package was free at the time, but now, Ghanaians have to pay for the costs incurred.

He said the Ghs19billion lost to the pandemic must be recouped at some point and the liabilities “we have incurred have to be paid for.”

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