Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, May 30 , 2016
It is emerging that the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC) government is under pressure to reduce killer electricity tariffs (light bills) that have collapsed many industries and wreaked havoc on many homes.
Cabinet reportedly had a crunch meeting on Thursday, chaired by President John Mahama, to consider a possible reduction of the killer tariffs since the public outcry was becoming too intense with the opposition bashing the NDC administration.
The government’s action is coming at a time that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) presidential candidate for the 2016 elections, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has promised to reduce the killer light bills when Ghanaians give him the mandate to become president in the November polls.
High electricity bills which have been justified by the Petroleum Minister, Emmanuel Armah Kofi-Buah, are collapsing businesses and causing public anger against the Mahama administration, making the government very unpopular.
The minister asked Nana Akufo-Addo to tell Ghanaians what he could do differently to reduce electricity tariffs when given the mandate to govern the country.
Nana Addo believes that the several taxes imposed on electricity consumers are the major cause of the public agitations, and has called on the government to scrap them or reduce them to bring relief to the people.
On his recent tour of the country, Nana Akufo-Addo and his entourage were continuously bombarded with outrageous electricity bills by electricity consumers showing them (Nana and his team) their (consumers’) light bills.
When he visited South Africa recently the NPP flagbearer pointed out that the mismanagement of the economy had reached a point where rent was even less expensive than electricity bills.
The PURC increased electricity tariffs by 59.2 % for residential consumers effective December 14 last year. But it is turning out that many consumers are being charged monstrous rates, with some believed to be going as high as about 300%, leading to public outcry.
The NDC propagandists are blaming the ECG staff for deliberately fiddling with the meters in order to turn public anger against the Mahama government.
Ironically, President John Mahama recently beat his chest that he had succeeded in allowing the ECG to have a clean balance sheet with the astronomical increment. The president said Ghanaians should be prepared to pay more for the enjoyment of constant electricity supply; yet with the tariff hikes, there seems to be shortage in supply as outages (dumsor) are still living with consumers.
The president last Thursday made a sudden u-turn claiming that a taskforce had been put in place to resolve the crisis.
With elections beckoning at the corner, DAILY GUIDE learnt that the taskforce will come with a reduction in tariffs to catch votes.
"Cabinet today (Thursday) approved the Inter-Agency Task Force put together to resolve complaints from the public regarding the bills and charges being received from the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) in respect of our consumption of power.
"Following our very detailed and exhaustive discussions in Cabinet this morning, we approved the steps taken by the Ministry of Power and expect the taskforce, which comprises the Energy Commission, the ECG, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and other stakeholders to submit its report and solution on June 03, 2016 for immediate implementation," the President said.
Minority spokesperson on energy, K.T. Hammond, waded into the debate when he said yesterday that Ghanaians are paying more for electricity because of collusion between the government, PURC and the Ghana Standards Authority to tamper with the revolutions per kilowatt hour on meters.
He told Citi FM that his investigations revealed that an increase in the number of revolutions per kilowatt hour had been sanctioned by the PURC, thereby increasing the amount individuals pay for electricity.
“I have conducted my investigation and what has come up is that somehow the PURC has sanctioned a situation whereby the number of revolutions that goes into a credit unit has been reduced considerably,” he averred.
Energy Levies Act
Energy analysis experts, the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), has also urged government to scrap the levies and taxes imposed on electricity, saying these levies had led to the immense increase in the electricity tariffs.
Executive Director at ACEP, Mohammed Amin Adam, told Citi FM that the Energy Levies Act which imposed these levies and taxes on electricity consumption are crippling local businesses and also argued that the scrapping of the levies would be more prudent than a reduction in electricity tariffs.
He explained that levies on power consumption were directly responsible for the significant increase in tariffs. “Another reason is the levies and taxes. Now you have 10 percent levies on every kilowatt per hour consumed then 17.5 percent VAT, then you also have a GH¢7 flat rate on every meter for all consumers,” he noted.