General News of Tuesday, 11 July 2017
If the posturing by the Coalition of Stakeholders on the ECG Concession Arrangement (COSECA) is anything to go by, then there is stormy waters ahead for government in the power sector.
At the end of a forum organized by the coalition which is made up of Public Utility Workers Union (PUWU), IMANI, Wassa Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), the members are agitated about government’s posture in with the concession arrangement of ECG.
They are threatening massive stand-off against government.
General Secretary of PUWU Michael Nyantakyi was incensed by what he said was the bad posturing by the new Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko, warning there will be series of industrial actions if the new minister does not change his ways.
“The aluta is just about to begin,” he summed up his frustrations about what he believes was government’s feet dragging in reviewing the concession agreement.
Vice President of IMANI Africa, Kofi Bentil said the coalition is back to “square one” with the new government.
According to him, the initial objections to the sale of ECG which were pointed out to the previous government, still appears unresolved under the new government.
As if that is not enough, he said the new government’s and MiDA’s failure to engage the stakeholders on the sale arrangement is suicidal.
Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) is the institution managing the Compact agreement being championed by the US government and the Ghana government. Kofi Bentil said even though the ministry and MiDA were invited for the forum, none of them showed up and that is worrying.
“The option not to talk is not the best,” he hinted saying that leaves workers of ECG no choice but to take one of two decisions.
“They can choose to be gentlemen and go to court over the redundancy agreement… or choose to hit the streets,” he hinted.
He said the coalition is in talks with the workers to prevent them from going on demonstration but government must also do its part.
Under the Millennium Challenge Account, Compact II Power agreement Ghana is supposed to receive an amount of $500 million.
However there were far reaching, sweeping changes in the Power sector which will lead to the privatization of Ghana’s electricity distributor ECG.
The erstwhile John Mahama government signed the compact but did not have peace with workers of ECG until the NDC party lost power in 2016.
The workers organized series of strikes and demonstrations at a time when the country was already enduring power crisis popularly called ‘dumsor’. The then opposition NPP supported workers and promised it would take a second look at the compact agreement when voted into power.
When it won power in the 2016 elections, president Nana Akufo-Addo has attempted to review portions of the contract.
Instead of 25-year lease, the prospective owners of ECG will now have 20 years within which to own the power distributor.
The president also assured that the workers will no longer be laid off after five years. In what was meant to be the biggest news from the negotiation, the company when privatized will have 51% of it owned by Ghanaian private sector. Despite these changes the workers and the coalition are not impressed. The IMANI Vice President, Kofi Bentil said even though they support the signing of the compact agreement and the privatization of ECG they have still not gotten written assurances from government as earlier promised.
One of the problematic areas is the controversial Article 7.1 of the compact agreement which states: “When the implementation process [of the compact agreement] begins it shall not be subject to the laws of Ghana”.
Kofi Bentil finds this provision troubling as do WACAM and PUWU. But the new government has described COSECA’s interpretation of the article as faulty.
The IMANI Vice-President quoted government spokespersons as saying that clause will not have that effect after signing.
Kofi Bentil said they have asked government for written assurances that that clause will not take effect but government is yet to provide that statement. “As we speak we have not received that letter,” he said.
He added the 51% shares which is supposed to be owned by Ghanaian investors still does not make the ECG any better going forward.
He would rather the government adopts a joint venture agreement between ECG workers and the new concessionaires.