Wereko-Brobby slams PURC’s "awam" tariffs adjustment; says it’s unjustifiable
Energy expert, Dr Charles Wereko-Brobby has challenged the neutrality and fair play stance taken by the Public Utility and Regulatory Commission in fixing the recent utility prices.
He accused the regulatory body of failing to ensure that utility providers – Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Ghana Water Company Limited- to reduce production losses, which he believed has over the years led to hikes in utility tariffs.
Speaking on Joy FM’s current affairs programme Newsfile Saturday, Dr Wereko-Brobby assessed that it would be unjustifiable for utilities providers to bill consumers for their wastage.
In his observation, the mediation role played by the PURC, to strike the balance between what the service providers demanded and what they actually deserves based on their efficiency among others, was quite treacherous.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Wednesday announced 78.9 per cent increase in electricity tariff and 52 per cent in water to enable providers to recover cost.
The tariff adjustments have been widely condemned by consumers and labour unions.
Dr Wereko-Brobby who is a former chief executive of the Volta River Authority, criticized the service providers for passing on their huge distribution losses to consumers.
He however asserted that consumers are willing to pay the right price for the right quality. He explained, consumers acknowledged that electricity is the cheapest alternative to other sources of energy, but are only demanding that the ECG is made more efficient.
“So really, I am not concerned about the percentages that they come, because the alternative as we have seen is far more expensive and far less reliable.”
In his analysis, “If you are to recover your cost, what goes into that cost?, if we lose 50% of the water that we produced…and we cannot billed for 50% of that, that is a complete waste time and therefore you cannot justify the consumer paying for your inefficient management of the utility service.
“If ECG distribution losses are running at 27, 28 percent: almost a third of what ECG produces is lost. Lost means that it cannot be billed for, that is no justification for tariff increases.”
Dr Wereoko-Brobby therefore charged on the PURC. “And That is why I think the PURC really lost it. It played the awam referee in all of its deliberations.”
But Ebenezer Baiden, energy economist and member of ECG tariff team, said the ECG should rather be commended for reducing wastage in the system. the current wastage is 22% which is just one percent short of PURC’s benchmark. He was confident that by the end of the year, the losses would go down to 21%.
He also disclosed that his outfit is liaising with the Attorney General’s Department to set up utility court. He noted judges have now been trained to appreciate issues related to energy to enable them preside over cases involving corrupt ECG officials as well as consumers who indulged in illegal connection among other illegalities.
Mr Baiden claimed the revenue ECG received is far below the huge investment injected into the company’s operation. He said the Word Bank and other institutions have stopped lending money to ECG because its balance sheet cannot support the borrowing anymore.
Story by Ghana | Myjoyonline.com| Isaac Essel | [email protected]
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