With the budget reading some hours away, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye says he is expecting to hear something on an alternative deal to the botched Power Distribution Services (PDS) deal and the threatening energy sector debt.
The review of the PDS deal by the Akufo-Addo administration upon assumption of power was anticipated to have resulted in a better deal than what the previous Mahama government left behind.
However, the review which saw government’s stake in the arrangement move from 20 percent to 51 percent, got derailed by scandals along the way.
Despite the dwindled public interest surrounding the collapse of the PDS deal, the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy Ben Boakye, said the budget must give an alternative to the PDS deal as promised earlier, to help address the current challenges facing Ghana’s energy sector, especially with the distribution of power.
“We have seen time and again in the budget and its presentation by the Finance Minister that they were going to come up with an alternative to the PDS agreement that got burst, but it never happened. What is this budget going to say to ensure that we can distribute electricity efficiently for people to pay for the power they consume? It is much more critical today than ever for us to have a clear direction on what we want to do with the distribution of electricity,” he said.
Though the President has already given indication in the recent State of The Nation Address (SONA) that the controversial Agyapa deal is coming back to Parliament, Benjamin Boakye thinks it must be withdrawn.
“The Agyapa transaction, I am just hoping that the Finance Ministry will announce that it is no longer going ahead or it wants to discuss how we can optimize our resources not just by looking at the financial side but looking at the industry, Investment attraction, and policy evolution of the sector because those are important to consider not just myopic revenue stream,” he added.
The Co-Chair of the Ghana Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, Dr. Steve Manteaw who is not optimistic about the budget addressing issues pertaining to the misappropriation of unspent oil revenues, is however urging Parliament to scrutinize the budget on such issues.
“You recall that in 2017, PIAC pointed out that some oil revenues had not been accounted for and then in 2018 because we couldn’t push government to account for the 2017 money, we saw another amount that was not accounted for. It happened again in 2019 and 2020. Currently, the amount has increased to over 2 billion,” he said.
“In the run-up to the 2020 elections, I raised the issue on my personal Facebook wall and the entire Ministry of Finance came at me asking Ghanaians to ignore me. I do not anticipate that government will make any pronouncement in this regard, but then I would want Parliament, in terms of their scrutiny of the budget, to raise questions about the unspent amount and to confirm if indeed these monies have been diverted to plot gaps in the budget as the ministry indicated,” he added.