The reduction in electricity bills by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo will sustain Ghanaians during these difficult period following the effect of the coronavirus outbreak in Ghana, an energy economist and adjunct lecturer at the Ghana Technology University College (GTUC), Dr Revison Oppong, has said.
He explained that the COVID-19 and the subsequent restrictions placed in some parts of the country by the President will no doubt have a monumental effect on the economy and Ghanaian businesses.
Therefore, he said steps including the cut in electricity tariff by the President is a step in the right direction.
President Akufo-Addo delivering his 6th to the nation on the Coronavirus pandemic stated that government will fully absorb electricity bills for persons who consume from 0-50 kilowatt-hours a month for the next three months – April, May and June.
Using the same duration, he added that his outfit will also cater for 50% of electricity bills for consumers in residential areas as well as those engaged in commercial activities during the period, using their March 2020 bill as the benchmark.
Mr Akufo-Addo’s promise was met with resistance from the Executive Director of the Africa Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP), Benjamin Boakye
Mr Boakye said the decision was rushed and may result in a dire consequence.
“The IPPs [Independent Power Producers] are owed over a billion dollars as we speak. Gas consumption is also not being paid for. If you check the OCTP payment schedule, since October there haven’t been payments for gas that is being consumed. This is a burden that sits on the books of the government as we speak,” he said.
The ACEP Director said the policy was “so regressive” adding that there will come a time where government will struggle to raise money to deal with the core issue.
“If you consume GHS18 government absorbs your electricity bill. But for the average person or the rich that is consuming GHS5,000 a month… government is going to pay GHS2,500 of your bill for you. This is so regressive that you don’t need to have that intervention at a time that government is struggling to raise money to deal with the core issue,” he said in an interview with Joy News.
But speaking on TV3 360 News Sunday April 12, Dr Oppong said : “Looking at the fact that majority of Ghanaians are into businesses, be it small-scale or medium-scale, majority living from hand to mouth.
“For that matter, the COVID-19 has affected importation of goods from China and Europe due to the lockdown, hence collapsing several businesses.
“I therefore see this as a social sustenance to Ghanaians and midst be appreciated.”
He further stated that if one focuses on the debt in the energy sector, he will be left with no option that to oppose the tariff cut.
“Objectively looking at the debt in the energy sector I will, of course, object to this decision knowing very well that this incur more debts.
“In November last year, GRIDCo withdrew emergency services over debts, expressing concerns about ECG’s debts, Valco and the NEDCo.”