Hotel industry in distress over water tariff, et al


Hotel industry in distress over water tariff, et al

The Ghana Hotels Association has petitioned the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) over high water tariffs, which it said is having a negative impact on its members.

While hoteliers expected an 8.3 percent adjustment as announced by the PURC earlier in the first quarter of this year – which translates to an increase in water cost from approximately GHȼ11.2 per cubic metre to approximately GHȼ12.3 – it observed a whopping 167 percent increase of their tariffs.

“When hotels received their water bills for February 2023, our tariff per cubic metre of water was GH¢30, indicating a whopping 167 percent increase as against the 8.3 percent announced by the PURC,” lamented the Association’s president, Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamike.

Meanwhile, since the beginning of this year water tariffs have gone up on three different occasions.

At a press conference in Accra, Dr. Ackah-Nyamike Jnr said actions and inactions of the utilities regulator – PURC – have created huge debts for hotels, and called for an urgent solution to what he described as an anomaly.

He recalled that the hotels’ woes started in January 2023, when the PURC announced an 8.3 percent upward adjustment in water tariff effective February 1, 2023.

With seeming inaction on the part of PURC, the Association has again petitioned the regulatory body – hinting at picketing at its office if the perceived erroneous billing is not checked.

The Association also took the opportunity to raise concerns over other issues it believes are worsening the industry’s woes.

“The last thing we expect are actions and inactions from public agencies that seek to deepen our woes. We are referring specifically to the actions and inactions of government in keeping the COVID-19 levy in our tax books when the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared the pandemic over.

“The actions and inactions of government in implementing a new property rate payment regime that has increased property rates astronomically; the Ministry of Roads and Highways in making travel on some of the highways a nightmare for tourists, both domestic and international.

“The actions and inactions of the Board of the Ghana Tourism Authority in the administration of the Tourism Development Fund, which are denying the Tourism Trade Associations of needed financial support to be effective partners in the public private sector collaboration mix. Also, the actions and inactions of the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ghana Tourism Authority in under-utilising the Public Private Partnership Forum, as provided in the Tourism Act 817, to address industry challenges,” the president listed.

To this end, the Association called on government to take a second look at what it described as a faceless property rate regime that has the potential to further cripple businesses.

The president explained that the Association is not against payment of property rates, but is unhappy with the astronomical increase in rates that property owners, including hoteliers, have to pay.

Arguing further, he said: “In an economy where businesses are struggling to survive, the astronomical increases in property rates with no reference to the existing rates is very worrying and troubling. A well thought-out increment in the property rate would have demonstrated empathy to the plight of a struggling business community, including hotels”.

On poor roads, the Association appealed to the Minster of Roads and Highways to give special attention to highways that link to tourist sites: including Cape Coast and Elmina Castles, Bisa Aberwa Museum, Ankasa Forest, Nzelezu and others.

Tourism Development Fund

“Another worrying trend over the past few years has been the lack of accountability in disbursement of the fund. To put it more bluntly, the administration of the Tourism Development Fund has denied the Tourism Trade Associations much-need financial support to be effective partners in the public private sector. We call on the Board of the Ghana Tourism Authority to revisit the proposal for a portion of the fund to be allocated to functional tourism trade associations every year, to support administration of the associations.

“We also call on the board to revert to the old practice wherein stakeholders were updated regularly on the inflows and outflows of the fund,” he appealed.

He also raised other issues such as the mandatory membership of hotels, copyright royalty and funding of training activities, all of which have not received the needed attention. He also urged the ministry and Ghana Tourism Authority to work toward getting the most out of the Public Private Partnership Forum (PPPF).

Dr. Edward Ackah-Nyamike Jnr said these developments require immediate and urgent attention, as they are key to sustenance of the hotel industry and the tourism and hospitality sector in general.

Click here for source.

GNBCC | News