Government’s announcement that it has settled its indebtedness to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), amounting to some GH¢2.6 billion, is refreshing and rather soothing.
Minister of Energy John Peter Amewu disclosed this on Tuesday at the COVID-19 update press briefing, and noted that as at December 2016 the total debt owed ECG by government was GH¢2.63billion. Government, he explained, paid GH¢2billion annually to cover its bill to the Electricity Company of Ghana.
Mr. Amewu however stated that government still has a credit balance of GH¢500million. He explained that the credit balance means government settled its first quarter energy bills to the ECG in advance. According to the minister, government is in a comfortable position to inform reliable consumers of electricity that the sector is gradually getting out of its woes.
The move has given the ECG a new lease of life, and it is the hope of many that the state power distributor will not accumulate such huge debts going forward. Bearing this in mind, this Paper totally agrees with the Institute of Energy Studies (IES) when it suggests that ECG must now apply the prepaid system in government institutions like municipal assemblies and all the ministries.
We believe if they are attached to the prepaid system, the temptation to accumulate additional debt will be minimised since they would be footing their own electricity bills – and not to pile them up unduly with the expectation that government will absorb them.
Making government institutions accountable for the utility expenses they incur will ensure more judicious use of such resources. We do not see why a case was made for individual homes to use prepaid meters to reduce wastage in the system and the same cannot be applied to government institutions like municipal assemblies and ministries.
A cursory drive through some ministries in Accra on weekends indicates that power is being wasted carelessly, with some offices remaining fully lit and devices like air-conditioners still operating. It is because individual ministries do not foot some of these expenses that they carelessly misapply some of these devices.
Employees of such entities must be made to exercise better judgement and be more accountable, particularly when using utilities. Moreover, whatever happened to the policy of hooking up some of these public institutions to solar energy and other renewables? The example at the Ministry of Energy has to be replicated for all other public institutions.