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Suspend increases in electricity service charges – Minority charges PURC

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman
Ranking Member on the Mines and Energy Committee, Mr John Jinapor
Ranking Member on the Mines and Energy Committee, Mr John Jinapor

The Minority in Parliament has charged the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), to suspend immediately the astronomical price hikes in service connection and other related charges within the electricity sector.

It said the commission carried out the service charges, which took effect from February 1, 2022, in the most opaque and clandestine manner without recourse to any public announcement.

"If the PURC fails to suspend these charges, the Minority side within the Mines and Energy Committee of Parliament shall use whatever legitimate parliamentary processes to ensure that the PURC is hauled before Parliament," it said.

Addressing the journalists in Parliament Wednesday, the Ranking Member on the Mines and Energy Committee, Mr John Jinapor said "Inasmuch as the PURC has independence in the determination of fees, charges and tariffs, it cannot do that in whimsical and capricious manner without the due course to the law.

"To attempt to take money from the ordinary consumer pocket through the back door is unacceptable," he said.

The PURC announced new approved service connection charges within the electricity subsector for including charging
GH1,020 for single-phase a straight service, GH1,920 for three-phase straight service, GH2,920 for single phase one pole extension and GH4,420 for three-phase one pole extension.

Do right

Mr Jinapor noted that if service charges or fees were to be implemented, the PURC ought to take into account the social, economic conditions and consult and communicate to consumers and other stakeholders on any decision being taken.

He therefore, described the decision by the PURC to increase services charges as "clandestine, surreptitious and nefarious way of adjusting these charges without recourse to due process within the electricity subsector."

To him, some of those charges were about 100 per cent which defied logic, a reason the commission must do the right thing.

Hikes at the pump

The MP also said Ghanaians had witnessed high hikes in fuel prices at the pumps.

In his view, within a period of one year, there had been about 50 per cent increment in fuel prices.

"The government announced that it was suspending the price stabilisation recovery levy but even in this difficult moment the government has brought back the price stabilisation recovery levy.

"It is led to untold hardship on the ordinary consumer; drivers, commuters, workers are complaining as this has led to an inflation rate of about 13 per cent currently."

"But we maintain that that option is a lazy man's option," he said.

Cushion consumers

He noted that per paragraph 287 of the 2022 Budgment Statement, the bench mark revenue per barrel was pegged at $61 but today crude oil was being sold at over $90.

"Ghana is a net exporter of crude oil and what this means is that we are making a windfall from crude from over 50 per cent.

"So, our position is that if the government is making from these huge revenues our exports, it only makes sense that you part of that money to cushion consumers," he said.