General News of Sunday, 29 May 2016
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of Parliament on Thursday scathed the management of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) for its inability to mention the debt owed it by clients as at December 2015.
Officials of the nation’s main power distributor, the ECG, were not ready with how much is owed the company as at the end of December 2015, despite the requirement that this should be ready by the next quarter of the following year.
Members of the PAC expressed displeasure with the situation when some members of management and officials of the company appeared before it to give evidence and to respond to queries raised by the Auditor General in the 2013 and 2014 audited accounts.
The ECG officials, however, said the Government and other clients, as at the end of 2014, owed the company 1.6 billion Ghana cedis, with the Government alone taking the chunk of almost one billion Ghana cedis.
Individuals, corporate institutions and other clients owed over GHC650 million Ghana cedis.
Mr Frank Annor Kwafo, the Director of Finance, said the debt owed by the Government was as a result of non-payment of electricity bills by agencies under the Government and its inability to redeem electricity subsidies to the company.
One of the Government establishments that is hugely indebted to the ECG is the Ghana Water Company due to the company destroying some properties of the ECG, but Mr Kwafo said the ECG was pursuing the Water Company to pay.
According to Mr Kwafo, the debts had crippled the national power distributor and affected its programmes and activities since it did not have the needed funds to invest into new technologies that would reduce the wastage in power distribution.
Among some of the Audit findings that warranted ECG’s invitation to the PAC were a system loss of up to 27.44 per cent when power purchased was matched against sales in units in 2013.
It came to light from the hearing that the ECG had no effective date for some tenancy agreement it had entered into with some clients occupying its properties.
Meanwhile, Mr Kwaku Agyeman-Manu, the Chairman of the PAC, deferred all public interest questions relating to overbilling of electricity tariffs directed at officials of the ECG to the Mines and Energy Committee for responses.
Committee members, after interrogating the ECG officials on the audited accounts, expressed the desire to ask public interest questions relating to the overbilling of customers, especially those using pre-paid metres but were prevented from doing so by the Chairman.
The PAC Chairman, who is also the Member of Parliament for Dormaa Central, said since the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Edward Doe Adjaho, had directed the Committee on Mines and Energy, chaired by Amadu Sorogho, to inquire into the matter, it was proper for all questions relating to the issue to be tabled before the committee for answers.
He said since officials of the ECG would be appearing before the Mines and Energy Committee, asking questions relating to the subject matter would undermine the work of that committee.