Government has indicated it is releasing almost GH₵200million immediately as part payment to ECG following a massive disconnection exercise at various government agencies.
The payment is to cut an estimated GH₵1.5billion debt government owes the power distribution company for power consumed by public institutions and government agencies.
The ECG since last week has embarked on a massive disconnection exercise to demonstrate its resolve to recover debts owed it by Metropolitan, Municipal and. District Assemblies (MMDAs), businesses and individuals.
In what has been described as a “special revenue mobilisation exercise,” ECG cut power to the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation, the Cape Coast Polytechnic and the newly constructed Cape Coast Stadium.
But government has stopped the company in its tracks referring to a Cabinet decision that bars the ECG from disconnecting power to critical state agencies such as in education, military and health institutions.
The Power Ministry explained that the premises of these agencies are exempt from pre-paid metering because they need constant power to provide critical services.
With these exceptions, John Jinapor said government “welcomes” the ECG’s initiative to collect its debts.
But Deputy General Secretary of the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU) Michael Nyatakyi expressed disappointment with government’s attempt to halt the exercise.
He confessed that ECG, which is up for privatization, is in “quite a difficult time financially”.
The ECG is struggling to pay for needed supplies and has resorted to borrowing, he revealed. The disconnect exercise is a response to a critical time in the company, the trade unionist explained.
“Something has to be done before the whole system grinds to a halt…any amount that will come in [from the disconnection exercise] is significant as far as we are concerned,” he lamented.
As a demonstration of ECG’s seriousness, he said staff of the company who ordinarily are not part of disconnection teams, have been drafted in to accelerate the revenue collection exercise.
Government agencies and organisations are the worst culprits when it comes to non-payment of bills.
“They continue to use the power, you can’t disconnect them, they are adding to the bills, every month the bills are going up,” Michael Nyantakyi observed.
The government’s reactionary move to defray portions of its debt is not the solution to the company’s revenue challenges, he said.
Government agencies should pay for power just like other organizations are expected to do, he suggested.
“It takes about a year before government comes in with some lump payment, in the interim, it puts so much pressure on ECG. Either the company has to resort to suppliers credit or you have to borrow….these arrangement creates a lot of problems for the company” his lament continued.
But Deputy Power minister John Jinapor has explained that the ECG can expect more payments in the near future.
“By the end of the second quarter, the Finance ministry would be making so much payment it may outstrip whatever these institutions owe ECG”, he assured.