Business News of Monday, 12 September 2016
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) has dismissed suggestions that the Commission will no longer be able to set electricity tariffs should the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) complete the processes of handing over the operations of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to a concessionaire.
According to the Director of Public Relations and External Affairs at the PURC, Nana Yaa Jantuah, any concessionaire that would take over the management of ECG’s operations would operate within the regulated market, and the PURC would still have to go through the processes to ensure consumers were not short-changed.
There are fears that the privatisation processes will rather overburden consumers, as whoever emerged as the concessionaire would be looking at the company’s profitability, which would likely increase the rate of tariffs paid by the various segments of the consuming public.
But Ms Jantuah was of the view that the concessionaire could not just get up and set tariffs for the public without recourse to the PURC.
“The functions of the PURC require it to set tariffs and also put in guidelines for risks involved in operating the utilities services,” she said.
She told the Daily Graphic, in an interview in Accra that there were parameters that guided the fixing of tariffs.
“PURC in setting tariffs takes into consideration cost and revenue requirements and these same indicators would be applied to any concessionaire in order to ensure that service delivery will commensurate with tariff rates”, she explained.
“Bear in mind that the concessionaire is still a distribution company and so long as they will sell in a regulated market, they fall under the ambit of the PURC Act, and except the law is changed through Parliament, the PURC will remain the only regulator of utilities and natural gas transmission tariff processes,” she stressed.
Ms Jantuah hinted that even after the processes were completed, the Commission’s tariff proposal format, which allowed stakeholders to submit proposals for consultations, would still be in Accra.
Asked why the PURC would not support the proposal of the ECG workers for the company to be listed on the stock exchange, she queried whether the leadership of the workers union had made public the said proposal for scrutiny?
“How are they presenting their concern? What options are they presenting to stakeholders? From all the agitations, it has not even come out clearly what they are unhappy with,” she stated
While the workers of ECG remained livid over possible job losses if the processes of the concession were completed, the Commission, she stressed, remained equally worried, “considering the number of years the project would last.”