In an attempt to redeem its image on The Chronicle's exposÃ© on the removal of the government's subsidy on electricity tariff, the Electricity of Ghana (ECG) wrote a rejoinder to discredit the story headlined -”ECG Smuggles in New Tariff.”
However, there is ample evidence to prove that the subsidy on electricity has been removed, as samples of electricity bills across the length and breadth of the country, in possession of The Chronicle indicate.
What is even more worrying is that the ECG has in previous months removed the subsidy on electricity without the notice of the public.
For instance, in some communities around the country, subsidy on electricity for the months of December 2012 and January 2013 were removed without any explanation from the power distributor to consumers.
Had it not been The Chronicle's exposÃ©, many consumers would have been left in the dark without knowing the secret deals of the ECG.
Till date, no explanation has been given as to who authorised the removal of the electricity subsidy on the above-mentioned months.
In the words of the power distributor: “The company wishes to state emphatically that it has not been authorised by the mandated regulator, the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), or the government to remove the subsidy component of the tariff, presently being implemented by the ECG.”
In May, this year, the PURC announced plans to begin the process of reviewing tariffs for electricity generation and water, following a request made by the service providers, the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL) and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).
As a first step, the Commission said it would interrogate the proposal brought forth by the utility service providers, after which they (service providers) would be requested to publish key highlights of their proposals in the media, for the public to comment and contribute their views on them.
Such publication, the PURC noted, would entail a chronological account of revenue that were accrued from the 2010-2011 tariff adjustment, and how it was utilised for the benefit of the consumer.
Issues raised for a new tariff request by the ECG during nationwide public engagements highlighted the key challenges, and strategies to address them, improve upon quality of service, intended revenue to be generated in the short to medium term, percentage increase being requested for, and how they were going to address the concerns of consumers, in respect of efficiency improvements and quality of service
In addition to the above, the PURC said there would also be a stakeholder consultation process, where the service providers, with the commission as an intermediary, would be given the opportunity to present their case to key stakeholders.
But, before the PURC would take a decision based on the data it had collected from key stakeholders in the above-mentioned exercise, the ECG had gone ahead to withdraw the government's subsidy without alerting its consumers.
But, the big question is where did the huge amount of money collected for the months of December 2012 and January 2013 go? Who authorised the ECG to remove the subsidy for those months? What has the ECG done with those monies collected?
To compound matters and add to the woes of the ordinary Ghanaian who has been over-burdened with President Mahama's austerity measures, the electricity tariff for the month of June 2013 has also been removed.
From the explanation of the power distributor, it is not clear who authorised the removal of the power subsidy for the said month.
From the evidence, as splashed in the newspaper, it appears the ECG randomly removed the electricity subsidy on the blind side of consumers, but it was not clear whether those monies collected go to the public purse.
The Government of Ghana pays a GH¢5 subsidy on power consumption by the vulnerable in society. It was awarded all households whose monthly consumption of power fell below a certain cut off point.
However, for the month of June 2013, consumers who fall within the above-mentioned category have been denied this rebate, and are paying a higher tariff.
For instance, anyone who previously paid GH¢5 as a result of the discount, now pays a bill of GH¢30.
That means, an additional GH¢5 (Government subsidy) has been imposed on consumers without notice.
Below are samples of electricity bills for readers to judge whether the subsidy has been removed or not.