The Member of Parliament (MP) for Damango in the Northern region and Minority spokesperson on Energy, Adams Mutawakilu is on a frolic of a relentless call for the increase in electricity tariff.
He is engrossed in his conviction that, not even a statement from the entity constitutionally mandated to see to the increase in tariffs, says they are no such plans, could convince him to change his posture.
I am at a loss as to whose bidding the MP is doing, as any increment no matter the percentage, will have a dire consequence on ordinary Ghanaians and the business community, who are already feeling the economic mismanagement of the Akufo-Addo government. This is a fact, and repeating it will only be stating the obvious. Most people in Ghana are struggling to feed themselves, not caring for other comforts and luxuries.
All over the world and especially Africa, electricity supply does not come cheap, government on daily basis make huge investments on generation, transmission and distribution of power. However, the issue of another tariff increment ought to be handled with utmost caution.
The situation with Ghana’s power sector calls for sober reflection. The sector is ridden with so much corruption; it has been a bottomless pit where successive administrations have sunk so much money with little impact.
It is trite knowledge that, electricity consumers in Ghana pay so much for power than their counterparts in neighboring countries; this is even in countries, where we supply power to.
So they buy from us and are able to sell it cheap to their citizens and yet time and time, we are being asked to pay the inefficiency of power distributors.
If history is to be our guide, then recent history tells us that no matter the percentage increment, it will not solve the perennial problem of Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), running into debts.
Adams Mutawukili’s Constituency falls under the less developed and most impoverished regions of the country. So before he suggests any idea of electricity increment, he should first be minded to ask himself, if his constituents can afford any upward adjustment of tariff.
Since The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), announced a general reduction in electricity tariffs on March 15, 2018, Adams Mutawukilu, has been on a one man crusade to have tariffs increased, by reminding Ghanaians, of the debt profile of the power distributor.
Residential customers per the new tariff cuts are to enjoy a 17.5percent reduction, while non-residential customers will see tariffs cut by 30percent.
Those in the mining sector have also been given a 10percent tariff cut, and 25percent cut for Special Load Tariff Customers (LV, MV & HV).
As I stated earlier, available statistics show that, we pay so much for power compared to some of our neighboring countries, so the issue is not about upward adjustment of tariff, it is about efficiency in our ability to reduce transmission losses and most importantly going after companies that consume power without paying.
It is said that, government should not be in the business of doing business, but should rather provide the enabling environment for the private sector to thrive.
The truism in this saying lies in the fact that, most state own enterprises established under the first president and founder of the country, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, have failed to break even and have either folded up or have become a drain on the public purse.
We are witnesses to the story of Ghana Telecom, until it was sold to Vodafone; the company was struggling to stay afloat.
Ministries, Departments and some government Agencies, are heavily indebted to ECG. The MP, who is so passionate about the survival and sustenance of ECG, should rather channel his energies into telling the government to settle its indebtedness to the power distributor.
In 2012, investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas and his Tiger Eye PI, uncovered acute maladministration, massive corruption, pilfering and plain stealing at the Electricity Company of Ghana, losing for the country millions of Ghana Cedis.
From five Star hotels to telecom companies, from state institutions to educational institutions, from lush resorts to plush residential facilities, all are involved in, to a very high degree, either power stealing or simply not paying their bills.
Whilst companies and some individuals, the richest and financially sound and well placed, procure the services of greedy ECG staff to tamper with meters to slow them down in order that they will malfunction, others all together tap electricity directly from the mains, thereby enjoying free power.
Some companies instead of paying their bills in full to the ECG, pay paltry sums to selected ECG officials and keep piling up their bills for years. After three of more years, they fictitiously fold up and their bills are declared a bad debt by the ECG. They then move their machinery and operations to another location under a different company name and the cycle continues.
Anas produced a long list of companies that owed millions to the ECG as of November 2011.
Some of the companies are: Office of the President – GHS675,805.55; State House (Parliament) – GHS635,781.31; Police Headquarters – GHS393,736.65; Ghana Water – GHS617,105.51; Ministry of Finance – GHS524,924.67; Vodafone – GHS 886,814.15; MTN – GHS 349,811.19; Airtel – GHS56232.48; University of Ghana – GHS4,388,500.63; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology – GHS2,981,228.93; University of Cape Coast – 1,871,556.40; ECOBANK – GHS320,275.56; La Palm Royal Beach – GHS238,621.89; Movenpick – GHS 577,631.07 and Vienna City – GHS44,435.14. Source: Myjoyonline.com.
MTN, having taking its customers for granted, extended it to the ECG, this is a company cannot deny the fact that, coming to Ghana is the best business move it ever made. Before they came to this country, who knew them outside the confines of their offices in South Africa, yet they will not have the courage to do in other countries.
The MP, who has developed some love for ECG, should find out, if the above mentioned companies and government agencies have fulfilled their obligation to the power distributor.
As a legislator, beyond the political capital that any increment in tariff could inure to the benefit of his party, he should know that such a move is inconsiderate, given the socio-economic challenges that are widespread in the society. No matter the explanation to the contrary, it is obvious that the economy is not as healthy, as it should be.
Birds sing not because they have answers, but because they have songs. While I may not have the answers, why Adams Mutawukilu is convinced failure to increase tariff, could collapse the ECG, I think any attempt to increase could be counter-productive.