General News of Tuesday, 20 January 2015
Power Minister Dr Kwabena Donkor was not appointed into his new Ministry to go on a debt collection spree, energy think tank African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) has said.
Executive Director of ACEP Dr Mohammed Amin Adam’s comment comes on the heels of the inauguration of a debt collection Committee for state power distributor Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), by the Minister at the weekend.
“I think that Dr. Kwabena Donkor can do better. There are people in charge of collecting debt at ECG. If they are not performing, what the Minister needs to do is to fire them and get the appointment of competent people who can [do] this and recover the debt of ECG,” Adam told Citi FM.
The Committee has been mandated to collect current and old debts owed ECG by private and public institutions.
“The Minister doesn’t need to set up a committee to collect these debts for them. That is not the role of the Minister,” he said.
Launching the Committee, Dr Donkor said ECG is on the brink of collapse. “We are on the brink of collapse if we do not have cash infusion and yet we are owed hundreds of millions of cedis. This, ladies and gentlemen, cannot and must not be allowed to continue,” the Pru East MP said at t event.
It is estimated that ECG is owed about Ghc500 million in accumulated debt by both state institutions and private firms.
Some domestic consumers also outwit the company by connecting power illegally to their homes and not paying for them.
Dr Donkor said: “As a nation, we cannot afford to let this valuable asset we call ECG collapse. It will be most irresponsible of us, and we will not allow that.”
“The management and board are determined that going forward, we’ll have a lean, efficient, commercially sensitive and aware organisation that will ensure the survival of the organisation,” he promised.
He gave Government’s support to the Company towards efforts in retrieving all old and current debts owed ECG.
“On the back of this today, as the minister responsible for the sector, I put the weight of officialdom behind ECG to collect not only current bills, but accumulated debts,” Dr Donor stressed.
According to Dr Adam, however, Dr Donkor must focus on his core duty of ensuring efficiency in the power sector rather than taking upon himself the responsibility of collecting debts owed ECG since there are departments responsible for that.
“In this case, he has all the power to ensure that the right people are in ECG to ensure that ECG recovers its debt.”
“If the Minister cannot get government to pay its debts, is it the committee that can force government to pay its debt to ECG? That is not the way to go about getting ECG financially strong and I think that the Minister of Power should come again because the committee is a non-starter,” he added.