Viasat1: Chamber of Commerce welcomes PURC order to ECG

Source: myjoyonline

The order given by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to suspend the implementation of its new billing software until further notice is a step in the right direction, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) Mark Badu Aboagye, has said.

On Tuesday, May 24, the PURC issued the directive following numerous complaints filed with the Commission by consumers of electricity who allege that they were being over-billed by the state power distributor. Industry players have over the years bemoaned the adverse impact of the high utility tariffs charged by the ECG on their business operations.

The CEO of the GCCI, Mark Badu Aboagye commended the PURC for heeding the union’s demands for taking a step in the right direction.

“I think it is a step in the right direction. We have, from the beginning of the year, drawn the PURC’s attention to the fact that there seems to be a problem with the billing system. Our members have been complaining about the fact that they are paying more than the approved rate, so, if they have realised that and suspended it, I think it is a relief to us,” he stated.

He added that: “It is very difficult paying for something that you did not use, and looking at the current economic situation, if you are to pay for something that you did not use, that will be unfair.

“We are happy that they have really listened to us, but we are expecting that the right thing be done and should be done on time as well,” he told Citi News.

Meanwhile, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), has also asked the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to reduce tariffs on electricity immediately following the instruction by the PURC.

Nana Addo, in a statement, said: “I have taken notice of today’s statement made by the PURC that the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) should suspend its billing system. I think the matter is more fundamental and should go further than that.

“If you look at the rates we are charging industry, as well as domestic users, for electricity in Ghana, compared, for instance, to Cote d’Ivoire, already, it puts our enterprises in a very uncompetitive comparison,” he said.

“In Ghana, my understanding is that the tariff for commercial users is 32 US cents/kilowatt hour. The Ivorian equivalent is 13 US cents/kilowatt hour. Again, for domestic users, we are talking about 19.28 US cents/kilowatt hour, when Cote d’Ivoire’s equivalent is a tariff of nine US cents/kilowatt hour.

“A large part of it is due to the taxes, the insatiable appetite of the Mahama government for taxes – 10 percent energy levy, which is charged for both domestic and commercial uses, a service charge of GHc7 flat rate for every consumer and a VAT of 17½ percent for commercial users.”

The former Attorney General added that: “I believe all of these figures can be significantly reduced to be able to bring the electricity tariff system in our country to a much more competitive relationship with that of our neighbours and what is going on in the region. It is important for us to recognise in Ghana that, whatever we are doing, we are doing so in a globally competitive context, and if we don’t recognise that, many of the decisions we make about the management of our economy are going to put us at a disadvantage from the get- go.

“I am saying it is absolutely imperative and urgent that the public authorities find a way to reduce electricity tariffs in our country immediately and do so now.”

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