Power in Ghana Chamber of Commerce welcomes PURC directive on billing software

Ghanaians and businesses have complained that they are being overcharged for the power they use.

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The Ghana Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) has welcomed PURC’s directive for the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to halt its new billing software.

Ghanaians and businesses have complained that they are being overcharged for the power they use.

The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission on Tuesday asked the ECG to stop implementation of the new billing software after its investigations revealed anomaly in the billing system.

CEO of GCCI Mark Badu Aboagye said the directive is in the “right direction” and a “relief to us.”

Speaking in an interview with Accra based Citi FM, Aboagye said: “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.”

According to him, “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 added.

Minority spokesperson on energy K.T. Hammond alleged Tuesday that consumers are paying so much for electricity because there appears to be a collusion between the Government of Ghana, the Public Utility Regulatory Commission and the Ghana Standards Authority.

He said his investigations into the issue have revealed that electricity consumers pay more lately because the number of revolutions that go into credit unit has reduced considerably.

“I have conducted my investigations. I think what has come out is that somehow the PURC has sanctioned a situation where the number of revolutions that go into credit unit, the number has been reduced considerably," he said.

“Those days my understanding is that, your meter would have to run 60/55 revolutions before you have one unit which you paid for.

“What is happening now is that it has been sanctioned by PURC, by the standards board that we no longer do that. The revolutions are now 45.”

“So when you have paid for 100 cedis and you bought 100 units of credit and you thought that you were going to have 60/55 revolutions to give you a unit, you now actually going to have only 45 revolutions,” he explained further. “So when the mercury dial is done 45 revolutions, it gives you a unit to pay for.

Touching on the role of the standards authority, Mr. Hammond said when the meters are brought into the country, the board takes charge of the calibration of the meters.

“Now in the process of the calibration that these things happen,” he said.

Presidential candidate of the NPP Nana Akufo Addo waded into the matter, calling on the ECG  to reduce tariffs on electricity immediately following the instruction by the PURC.

"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 a statement.

“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."

He continued: “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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