sharing in governance of extractive industries
Ben Boakye, Deputy Executive Director
The Africa Centre for Energy Policy has added its voice to that numerous calls “that government should reduce the levies and taxes” on electricity bills in Ghana. Government can do that without undermining the work of the utilities. If the intention of government is to raise more revenue to create jobs and develop the country, how about the opportunity cost - industries that create many of the jobs folding up under higher end user tariff”.
ACEP has also “ask Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to publish the Customer Charter as required by law so that customers have basis to evaluate its service” and save ordinary Ghanaians from being cheated.
“The 10% energy levy for National electrification and public lighting is regressive and punishes industrial consumer the more. We therefore propose that government should consider a flat rate to lessen the burden on industry” ACEP added.
Signed by its Executive Director, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam and issued this evening in Accra, ACEP say the 24th May 2015 statement by the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) directing the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to suspend their new billing software also reinforces the calls by ordinary Ghanaian consumers that they have been billed excessive tariffs since last year.
Cautioning, ACEP believe that implementing this directive will be very chaotic to the extent that ECG will have to completely uninstall the new software and install their old one, if PURC agrees that power should be sold between the time of the suspension and when the challenges with the new software are rectified.
To this end ACEP captures that “by ordering suspension of the software PURC is agreeing that consumers have been over-billed. But PURC failed to apply the full strength of the Act that sets it up. Suspension of the software is not enough. PURC should compel ECG to comply with the section of the PURC Act which requires the utility to adjust consumer’s next bill with the excess amount or pay cash to them (Sec 27). Failure by ECG to comply is also an offense and punishable by a fine or imprisonment (Sec 38h)”.
Consumers have been crying that their power or electricity bills have been outrageous and way above what is considered normal bills or monthly power tariffs. In some instances their bills have been reduced after officials of ECG have been confronted heighten suspicions that the billing meters have been tempered with. For instance how can a prepared paid meter owe the ECG, the power distributor?
ACEP also believe that these billing challenges have been ongoing for a long time and consumers are now being taken for granted. ACEP will therefore begin a campaign to educate consumers about remedies available so that the Regulator/ECG do not abuse the contract between the utilities & the consumer.
The think-tank also urges PURC that steps should be taken to reconnect consumer who have wrongfully been disconnected by the ECG. PURC should step up their sanctions to urge ECG to compensate all customers who have been overbilled or wrongfully disconnected. ACEP draws the regulator- PURC for failing “to analyze the consequences of their directive as a freeze on billing on the other hand will cut power to many consumers, particular prepaid consumers, until the software is corrected”.
PURC Act Obligates a Public Utility to give every consumer at the end of every calendar month a bill (Sec 26) and failure to do so is an offense punishable by a fine or imprisonment (Sec 38g). Consumers must begin to use the court system if PURC is not protecting them as required by law.
Source: Seibik Bugri
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