Economist Dr Adu Sarkodie says the impact of the reliefs on utilities will not significantly increase the country’s debt.
The government extended the provision of free utilities for lifeline consumers to cushion the public from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dr Sarkodie insists that the impact of the pandemic still lingers and any help offered by the government to the masses will help in the long term in revamping the economy.
“It’s not as if there is going to be an extra burden on the government. All these things have already been budgeted for. The government has taken one billion dollars from the IMF, some two hundred and thirty million from the stabilization fund and some money from the bank of Ghana. So, I don’t think it’s going to be any extra burden on the Government’s coffers. I do believe that these are essential provisions that are necessary, and I think that the government hasn’t done anything wrong. I support the idea of Government trying to help relieve the financial burden that COVID-19 has put on households and individuals.”
The free provision of water and electricity was extended by three more months for lifeline customers only as the country continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Although the relief packages for Ghanaians ended in December 2020, the government said the extension for the vulnerable has become necessary to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
In his 21st COVID-19 update to the nation on Sunday, January 3, 2021, President Akufo-Addo announced that lifeline electricity consumers and households whose water usage do not exceed five cubic metres per month will not pay for the utilities in January, February and March 2021.
At the initial stages of the Coronavirus pandemic in Ghana, the government announced three-month free water for Ghanaians.
President Akufo-Addo made the first announcement on Sunday, April 5, 2020, when he disclosed that the government will foot water bills of all Ghanaians for April, May, and June 2020 following an increase in the country’s coronavirus cases amidst a partial lockdown of the epicentres of the disease.
The government subsequently extended the free water policy twice, ending December 2020.
But some have reservations about the government’s extension of the free utilities.
One of such is Economist Dr Lord Mensah. He argues that the extension should not be a priority especially considering the country’s debt levels.