Blame Overbilling on PURC’s 59.2% Electricity Increment and Not Software- Kofi Kapito
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Consumer Rights Protection Agency, Mr. Kofi Kapito has said that issues of overbilling by the Electricity of Ghana (ECG) is not only the software used by the power distributor but also the 59.2% increment in electricity which was introduced by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) in December.
“These are some of the challenges that are facing consumers. It is not just the software issue. The whole percentage that was increased is too damn expensive. If you increase anything by 59.2%, electricity is life and I find it interesting that the PURC is trying to justify that if you cannot afford it then don’t turn it on. This is 2016; everything in your life is connected to electricity including the water that you drink. So if a regulator can even make a statement that if you cannot afford it then don’t turn it on, I find it very disrespectful to the consumers whose welfare that regulator is suppose to protect,” Kofi Kapito said.
The PURC late last year announced an increase in electricity and water tariffs by 59.2% and 67.2% respectively ahead of the 2015 Christmas season which took effect from Monday December 14 2015.
The Volta River Authority (VRA), Ghana Grid Company Ltd (GRIDco), Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDco) had requested 128.6% increment while the Ghana Water Company asked for 400.2% increment.
According to the PURC, it took into account the concerns of all stakeholders and had thus refused the higher increment providers demanded.
The commission admitted that the increments were also necessitated by proposals it received in the middle of 2015 from utility service providers asking for an upward adjustment in tariffs.
After series of complaints of overbilling received by the PURC from power consumers, the PURC ordered the ECG to suspend the implementation of their new billing software until further notice.
Speaking on Daybreak Kapital on Thursday, Mr. Kofi Kapito believes the PURC must be held accountable for the current happenings in the energy sector.
“The ordinary Ghanaian has a regulator that they need to hold accountable and that is the PURC. The PURC’s mandate is for the utility and consumers. So if the consumer has any issues, the right place is to go to the PURC. Unfortunately, I believe even in the Ashanti region, I think about 80% of the population doesn’t even know where the PURC office is, Mr. Kapito noted.”
Kofi Kapito says illegal connections would continue to affect the ECG if the tariff Ghanaians pay does not tally with the salary they receive.
“If you ask the Ghanaian to pay realistic utilities and the Ghanaian is not paid realistic wages, how do you expect them to pay? You are telling me to pay the same utility per unit price as somebody who is making $8 an hour, does it make any sense? How am I going to get the extra money?
This is where I think we are doing everything wrong in Ghana. And that is why people will still do all those illegal things. Because the person needs electricity so let it be reasonable. Make sure that the person can afford to pay for it. Then you make sure that he doesn’t flout paying for it,” Mr. Kapito added.
To him, the increment is senseless and disgraceful especially because the PURC, after a lot of public backlash went ahead and increased the tariff.
To him, using electricity in Ghana is more expensive than it should be. He wants government to have a critical look at the taxes on power consumption in Ghana.
Source: Felicity Frempong | kapital971.com