Public varsities owe GH¢30m utility bills

Mr Seth Terkper,Minister of Finance and Economic Planning (11)The public tertiary educational institutions are in GH¢30million arrears of utility bills.

The Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr. Seth Terkper, who disclosed the figure, therefore, suggested a change of the mode of billing to pre-paid metering, as well as a check of all illegal connections.

He was speaking at a public lecture on the topic, “Challenges and experiences of managing the economy of Ghana”, organised by the University of Cape Coast (UCC), on Wednesday, as part of a programme by the UCC Alumni Association.

Mr. Terkper, an alumnus of the university, mentioned the level of indebtedness in the electricity bill of the University of Ghana, as GH¢14,936,868; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), GH¢9,368,487; University of Education, Winneba, GH¢3,414,287 and UMAT GH¢553,047.

For water bills, he said, the University of Ghana owed GH¢2,585,232, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), GH¢1,842,687, University of Education, Winneba, GH¢1,300,604 and UMAT GH¢160,456.

He called for a holistic view of who should pay for the utility consumption of private sector operatives on the campuses, and advocated the adoption of biogas technology to provide electricity to the institutions.

On medium term prospects for the country, the minister noted that growth rate was expected to pick up to 9.2 percent in 2017 while inflation was expected to reduce to 8.2 by the same year.

He said the country recorded economic growth over the past years with real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) from 3.7 per cent in 2000 to 11. 5 per cent in 2011 but slumped to 4.0 per cent in 2014 mainly as a result of the energy challenges.

On fiscal and current account deficits, Mr Terkper said the deficits were expected to move downwards to 3.7 per cent and 4.9 per cent respectively, while the build-up of reserves would cover 4.2 months of goods and services in 2017.

He said the government’s commitment to fiscal consolidation had very bright medium term prospects for the nation.

The prospects, he said, would be supported by an expanded services sector and the discovery of more oil and gas fields, as well as the coming on stream of the country’s own gas processing plant.

He said the home grown policies that had been formulated by the government were part of a programme to help develop the country, and to address the challenges confronting the nation.

Mr. Terkper noted that electricity access rate increased from 72 per cent in 2013 to 76 per cent in 2014, and mentioned some interventions as the completion of the Bui Dam, which had the capacity to generate 400 megawatts of electricity.

The Vice Chancellor of UCC, Prof. D. D. Kuupole, in his remarks, appealed to the government to give clearance to public tertiary institutions to recruit key lecturers due to the number of ageing faculty.

He said attempts to get the needed support from the Ministry of Education do not yield any result, and that was putting a lot of pressure on the educational institutions to recruit key staff to promote   academic excellence.

From David O. Yarboi-Tetteh, Cape Coast

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