General News of Wednesday, 1 March 2017
Staff of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) are on a collision course with Management over a plethora of allegations including financial malfeasance, victimization and cronyism.
Chairman of the staff union Alhaji Abukari Jabaru told Joy News a bulky petition has been presented to the Chief of Staff, Frema Osei Opare chronicling the sins of management.
The PURC has grabbed the headlines since Monday after news broke it spent large sums under questionable circumstances.
The monies were collected in 2013 and 2015 from utility companies which according to the PURC was to fund nationwide public meetings on controversial reviews of utility tariffs. A senior staff at ECG tells Joy News some of the monies were paid in cash to officials of the PURC.
The collection of these monies has been criticised as inappropriate – it is wrong for a regulator to collect monies from the regulated. After the monies were raised, more than GH¢470,000 was paid into the personal account of its Executive Secretary Samuel Sarpong.
In the continuing exposé by Joy News’ Kwetey Nartey, it has emerged that the utility regulator paid a little over $400,000 for a software and other services to a US-based firm through a contract that was sole-sourced.
But sources say the software is not working because PURC was only given a demo. There are claims the PURC has been reduced to a PR outfit managed entirely by its Director of Public Relations Nana Yaa Jantuah. Other divisions of the Commission have been starved of work.
Adding to the allegations, Alhaji Bakari said under the leadership of the Executive Secretary Samuel Sarpong, there have been ill-motivated transfers of some managers deemed critical of management.
“We had an internal auditor who was transferred because he offered professional advice. We had an Accounts manager who was transferred because he gave professional advice”, he cited.
The head of finance carried out instructions to transfer nearly half a million into the account of the Executive Secretary. But after he refused to carry out further instructions he believed were wrong, he was transferred, the Union Chairman claimed.
Mr. Sarpong has insisted it was rather the accountant who advised and subsequently lodged the said amount in his personal account.
The Union Chairman said staff are willing to open up to any independent inquiry into the allegations levelled against any employee of the PURC. But the Union would not want to discuss the Commissions troubles in the media because the utility regulator is a ‘sensitive’ state institution.
He said since the PURC was set up in 1997, it has never been in the media for such bad news.