Minister of Energy, Boakye Agyarko, has dismissed claims that the government erred by recommending an adjustment in the electricity tariffs to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC).
A former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Volta River Authority (VRA), Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, had suggested that the government was trying to usurp the mandate of the (PURC), by announcing an average reduction of between 13 and 21 percent in electricity tariffs for residential and industrial consumers.
[contextly_sidebar id=”68n5y9mRnzPMBp4JAcF5ihJmTPhUFofZ”]According to him, the announcement of the proposal to the PURC by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, whilst reading the 2018 budget statement on the floor of Parliament, put undue pressure on the PURC to approve it.
However, the Energy Minister, speaking to some journalists, including Citi News‘ Duke Mensah Opoku, rejected those assertions, stating that it would have been irresponsible of government not to request the reduction in the interest of Ghanaians.
“We have made recommendations to the PURC seeking their approval, so I don’t understand the hullabaloo. If we as a government, see benefits that could accrue and inure to the benefit of our citizens, it would be irresponsible on our part not to go to PURC for them to approve those benefits so that our citizens can get cheaper electricity. I don’t see anything wrong with it. We have not declared a reduction. We have gone to PURC to seek their approval, but there’s nothing wrong with us telling the nation what we have done,” Boakye Agyarko said.
He added that, the PURC ultimately had the mandate to determine whether the request from government had any merit, and would only approve it if they believe it was appropriate for them to do so.
He thus brushed aside the claims that they were exerting pressure on PURC into approving the tariff reduction, stating that it would have been unwise to go to the Commission without suggesting a rate of decrease.
“It’s up to the PURC to approve it or not. You send things to PURC to examine and review. We’ve not told PURC what to do, we’ve made a request. It’s semantics, if we have a problem with the English language, let us say so. All we have done is send a request to PURC for their examination and approval. Should we have gone to PURC and just said reduce the tariffs? It would have been grossly irresponsible to go to PURC without numbers and ask them to approve it,” he said.
‘Gov’t’s review of tariff-setting methodology ‘extremely inappropriate’
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, stated that the government had revised the tariff-setting methodology and the cost structure for power production.
He added that a recommendation would be made to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission in this regard, which will bring a little more relief to businesses and domestic users of electricity.
However, in an interview with Citi News, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, described this move by government as “extremely inappropriate,” adding that the government cannot make a recommendation to the PURC on possible cuts in utility costs as the Commission had the sole mandate of setting the tariffs.
“The idea that government should recommend specific numbers for tariffs is extremely inappropriate. Since 1997, we’ve had the PURC whose job it is to determine the methodology and the applicable rates, and also undertake three-monthly reviews of the tariffs in line with the changing circumstances such as price of fuel and the types of fuel mix that are being used by various generators, and the tariffs that are paid to the various generators. That is the sole purview of the PURC, and absolutely no government has got any right to recommend, let alone be specific about what reductions it should apply,” he said.
By: Edwin Kwakofi/citifmonline.com/Ghana