On Wednesday, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, announced in parliament while presenting the 2018 budget statement christened, “Edwuma Budget,” that government intended to cut power tariffs as a way of putting cash into the pockets of the masses.
Mr. Ofori-Atta stated that the government had proposed to the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to consider reviewing electricity tariffs downward – between 11 and 24 percent.
Giving the breakdown, he said residential and non-residential consumers were going to get 13 percent reduction in electricity tariffs while big companies would get up to 24 percent, if the recommendations were accepted by the PURC.
But the announcement, though a welcoming news for many Ghanaians, particularly the business community and the poor who have been calling for reduction in power tariffs, has flatly been rejected by the NDC.
Many people suffered harsh power crisis for four years under the erstwhile President Mahama government, which led to the collapse of many businesses and resultant in job losses.
Minority NDC spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Adams Mutawakilu, speaking to Joy News yesterday over the proposed power tariffs reduction, said the Akufo-Addo government has no power to reduce cost of power.
According to him, the body mandated to review and adjust electricity tariffs either upwards or downwards is the PURC.
He said it is not the prerogative of the government to review power tariffs and that PURC is an independent body which ought not to be dictated to by any administration, wondering where government was going to get money from for the funding gap that might accompany the reductions.
Deputy Minister of Energy in-charge of finance and infrastructure, Joseph Cudjoe, stated that government had engaged quite a number of independent power producers and that some of them had agreed to cut down the prices they charge for the power they supply to the national grid.
He specifically mentioned Karpowership as one of the few power producers who have agreed for the reduction.
Another deputy energy minister in-charge of power, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, also defended the price cut.
He told Joy News that the government considered two factors before going ahead to propose the price reduction.
“The first way is by reducing the cost of generation of electricity and the second way is by issuing a new tariff policy,” he said.
He added that the decision to depend on gas had largely reduced the cost of production of electricity and that should reflect in the pricing policy.
But the NDC, which touts itself as a social democratic political party, appears seriously prepared to fight the move which stands to benefit the masses who are at the heart of every socialist party.
Minority leader, Haruna Iddrisu, appears to be in doubt about the possibility of the government reducing the tariffs as proposed.
Speaking to the media after Mr Ofori-Atta had read the budget, he observed that just like how the excitement that greeted the proposed reduction of taxes on spare parts fizzled out, nothing much might come out of the proposed reduction in electricity tariffs.
Mr Iddrisu said, “Hallelluya” for the proposed reduction. “We look forward to the proposed reduction,” he said. The joy may just last for 24 hours. Let’s see how the implementation goes.”
By Melvin Tarlue