The Electricity Company of Ghana has called on government not to intervene in the payment of bills of Metropolitan Municipal District Assemblies (MMDA)’s.
According to the power distributor, government should rather resource the institutions enough to enable them settle their indebtedness to the ECG.
The Public Relations Manager of ECG William Boateng is hopeful that the ECG would be able to overcome the persistent financial challenges confronting it if government completely weans itself off the payment of utility bills of state institutions.
Mr. Boateng’s comments come on the back of recent developments in the power sector which has largely been attributed to the huge debts owed various institutions in the power distribution channel.
“I want us to reach that stage in the future where the government does not have to come in at all; we as an institution do not know the government but we hope that if there is are monies to be paid or any intervention to be made, the government will provide for the institutions for them to engage or negotiate with ECG on their own. I think that is the way forward and the best way to deal with these outstanding debts,” he stated.
William Boateng however described as a great relief, the granting of permission to install prepaid meters within some non-essential facilities as a means of ensuring compliance with the payment of utility bills.
“It is better for us, now that the government has given us the approval to install prepaid meters within facilities where it is non-essential especially in the areas that we were told that we should not disconnect them. If you take places like the hospitals we are allowed to disconnect the bungalows, administrative blocks but sensitive areas we understand that we have to play our roles to save lives so we will be considerate not to take a decision that will border on someone dying.”
The PRO however admitted that the process of getting government off the payment of some state institutions will take a process.
He however stressed that the ECG can be able to inject some vibrancy into the system and correct all anomalies if its current negotiations with the government are considered and upheld.
Power Ministry tames ECG disconnection exercise
The ECG embarked on a mass disconnection exercise in a bid to retrieve outstanding debts owed it by some of its customers, mostly state institutions.
Some of the institutions affected as a result included the Police barracks at Tema Community 8, the Cape Coast Polytechnic and Stadium.
But the Ministry of Power intervened and implored that the ECG exempts some institutions such as health, educational and security installations from its ongoing mass disconnection exercise.
Reports indicate that government owes the company close to GH¢1 billion, while individuals and corporate institutions owe it a little over GH¢600 million.
Meanwhile the Deputy Power Minister, John Jinapor subsequently indicated of efforts by the Ministry of Finance to clear debts owed the ECG.
“The Ministry of Power wishes to commend efforts currently being made by the Electricity Company of Ghana to collect outstanding bills owed it by various categories of customers complemented by the Revenue Task Force. We have also noted the ongoing disconnection exercise being carried out by ECG to retrieve outstanding bills owed by customers.”
“Whilst we commend ECG in that regard, we wish to bring to your attention, Government’s decision to temporarily exclude certain critical categories from pre-payment metering and the mass disconnection exercise. These include critical installations in the health, security and educational institutions. The Ministry of Finance would continue to take steps to address the payment of arrears for such categories of institutions. We should therefore be grateful if you could act in line with the foregoing,” the statement added.
Gov’t to privatize ECG
Government has said it is privatizing parts of ECG under a concessionary arrangement but workers of the company have kicked against the move and have held series of protest against government.
Government has defended the move, arguing that the deal will guarantee greater efficiency in the company but the workers have strongly opposed it citing potential job losses among others.
According to the workers, government’s indebtedness and undue interference in the operations of the ECG, is largely to blame for the company’s challenges.
By: Norvan Acquah – Hayford/citibusinessnews.com/Ghana