MPs demand action on inflated electricity billing

Parliament1The Majority Chief Whip, Mohammed Muntaka Mubarak, has complained about the high electricity bills arising from tariff adjustment made by the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), calling for immediate steps to correct the anomaly.

The Legislator said the anomaly had come from errors in the billing of customers, negatively affecting efforts by President John Mahama in finding solution to the nation’s power crisis.

“The overall effect of these is that, the efforts of his Excellency John Mahama to solve the long standing power crisis in the supply of electricity is being undermined,” Alhaji Muntaka told Parliament in a statement, suggesting measures to the ECG to arrest the situation.

In recent times, many electricity consumers, both life-line and other categories of consumers, have registered their displeasure with the “unnecessary high electricity bills” that had more than doubled the cost of consumption with attendant undue hardship on virtually all Ghanaians.

“It has come to my notice that where some individuals have complained to the ECG, the errors in the billing were corrected and the problems were somehow resolved,” Alhaji Muntaka said. “But for the majority of consumers, the overbilling still persists.”

The lawmaker said information available to him indicated that errors in the billing of newly installed prepaid meters and administration lapses due to poor supervision of technical officers by their superiors were some of the reasons for the overbilling.

He scolded ECG officials who made deliberate efforts to take advantage of newly installed meters to rip off customers for their personal gains, asking them to stop that practice.

Alhaji Muntaka, who is also the MP for Asawase, in the Ashanti Region, called on the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) to liaise with the ECG to review the faults and restore the life-line state for the underprivileged.

He also urged the ECG to take urgent steps to meter every individual households instead of giving a compound house a meter or two so that poor consumers would benefit from the life-line subsidy.

“In cases where consumers are over-billed, arrangements should be made for ECG to either refund the excess payment or credit the accounts of consumers so affected,” the Majority Chief Whip said.

He also suggested that the House called the Minister of Power for a briefing on what concrete steps he intended to take to prevent the recurrence of the crisis in the electricity billing.

Mr Kwaku Agyemang Manu, the MP for Dormaa Central, registered the labour implications of the high tariffs, insisting that employees of some companies had lost their jobs owing to their employers downsizing as a result of the inflated cost of purchasing electricity to run their concerns.

He said he had been informed that some ECG officials recalibrated the meters to over-bill customers, calling for investigations into the matter.

Major Derek Oduro (rtd), the MP for Nkoranza North urged the House to deal expediently with the matter in order to cut short the sufferings of electricity consumers.

Meanwhile, the PURC has directed the ECG to suspend the implementation of its new billing software until further notice.

The regulator said its investigations, after many complaints by consumers, revealed that there were anomalies in the new billing arrangements introduced by the ECG.

“The Commission after a thorough investigation into the matter through our monitoring exercises, which culminated into visits to specific areas and also interrogation of bills, which were presented to consumers by the Electricity Company of Ghana came to the conclusion that there was an anomaly in the initial implementation of the new billing software,” a statement issued on Tuesday by the PURC said.

The PURC thus ordered the ECG to appoint an independent billing software expert to audit the new billing system and present a report to the regulatory commission.

It also directed the ECG to reconnect any customer who was wrongfully billed and disconnected with immediate effect, threatening to sanction the ECG if the directed was not upheld.

The PURC, late last year, sanctioned an increase of 59.2 percent and 67.2 per cent for electricity and water, respectively.

There is also a Street Light Levy of five per cent, a National Electrification Levy of five per cent and a monthly service charge tied to the unit of consumption.

Source: GNA

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