Politics of Tue, 16 Jan 201829

Minority, others rip Akufo-Addo over ‘populist’ electricity tariff reduction

The Minority in Parliament, African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) and Integrated Social Development Center (ISODEC) have criticized the president after he announced a reduction in electricity tariff.

Representatives of the three institutions say president Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s action amounts to a needless interference of the functions of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC), which is charged with the responsibility of tariff adjustment.

Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story Tuesday, Minority Spokesperson on energy, Adam Mutawakilu said the president’s announcement undermines the independence of the PURC.

To Mr Mutawakilu, the president was ill-advised by the Energy Minister on the matter.

“It is important that we don’t pre-empt it [and we expected the Energy Minister to have advised the president to hold [because] consultation takes some time,” he said.

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Section 4 of Act 538 states: “Subject to the provisions of this Act, the Commission shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person or authority in the performance of its functions.”

Although he said the Minority was not against tariff reduction, Mr Mutawakilu said the opposition lawmakers will not support any action that usurps the powers of a state institution.

President Akufo-Addo received plaudits when he announced a reduction in electricity tariff at the 8th Salon Conference held at the University of Ghana.

“From January this year, the non-residential tariff rate, which is the rate which includes all of you here, is being reduced by an average of 14%. For barbers, it is being reduced by 18%; for hairdressers and beauticians, 15.7%, and for tailors, 9.8%,” he said.

While the announcement has been welcomed by sections of Ghanaians, the Minority, ACEP and ISODEC have questioned the approach.

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ISODEC Campaign Coordinator, Dr Steve Manteaw told Joy News’ Evans Mensah the president played “politics” with the tariff adjustment.

“As a consumer, I am excited that I am going to get some relief but as a governance expert I will describe this development as unfortunate particularly as it undermines PURC,” he said.

The utility regulator is scheduled to meet with stakeholders on January 30 following government’s tariff reduction recommendation submitted in November last year.

Dr Manteaw has questioned why president Akufo-Addo will go behind the PURC to announce the reduction when the recommendation was yet to be considered.

“We want to act in a manner that we don’t create the impression that the government has taken control of tariff adjustment,” he said.

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On his part, Executive Director of the African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye said much as the Centre agrees that the government is a major stakeholder, it does not support its constant interference with the PURC work.

“We see the consistent announcement of tariff reduction as [undermining] the independence of the regulator,” he said.

Mr Boakye has asked the government to allow the Commission take its decision based on “what is possible.”

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