Allow ECG to access PDS accounts – Energy Commission

The Energy Commission has directed the Power Distribution Services (PDS) to without delay, grant the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) access to all accounts necessary for the effective operation of electricity retail sale activities across the country.

A statement issued by the Board of the Commission yesterday said, the order was in line with the appointment of ECG as the interim operator of electricity retail sale functions in the southern distribution zone under licence number EC/ESL/02-19-001.   

“In consequence, PDS is to facilitate and provide ECG with the needed access to all billing systems, metering operations, and payment accounts etc, required for the effective operation of the retail sales licence,” it stated.

The decision by the commission is premised on the revocation of PDS licence to carry out electricity distribution services following “detection of fundamental and material breaches of PDS obligations in the provision of payment securities (demand guarantees) for the transaction which were discovered upon further due diligence”.

A statement issued by Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah last Tuesday to that effect has since attracted backlash on government with many describing the gaffe as an embarrassment to the state.

The African Centre for Energy Policy (ACEP) at a news conference on Wednesday, blamed the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA) for the faux pas surrounding the concession agreement, calling for the immediate interdiction of the leadership of MiDA.

According to the Energy think-tank, the turn of events “represents the summary of the posture of MiDA in the events leading to the grant of the contract”.

Executive Director of ACEP, Mr Ben Boakye, addressing journalists recounted how the Authority, responsible for Ghana’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact had turned deaf ears to earlier warnings on the contract with stakeholder consultations, leading to the concession agreement taking “a deep dive into secrecy”.

“ACEP warned government and MiDA about the quality of the processes which saw Meralco winning the bid without competition, although they did not meet the initial requirement to have 51 per cent local content.

“ACEP also questioned the quality of the companies that formed the PDS consortium to take over the assets of ECG because apart from Meralco, the other parties in the consortium were not known, which was enough basis for MiDA to be meticulous in checking the background of the companies.”

The Executive Director held that if MiDA had shown “slightest seriousness and placed Ghana first”, it could have found the contested document signed between government and PDS suspicious, insisting that, to allow for transparency and accountability, the “leadership of MiDA must be immediately interdicted to prevent tampering with evidence that may be necessary to support the case of the state”.

Mr Boakye also urged government to cease with immediate effect the consumption of advice from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) on the transaction, as the IFC had proven incapable of defending the interest of its clients; MiDA and the government.

While commending government for taking swift steps to mobilise state apparatus to protect public interest under the circumstances, the energy expert again called for an immediate audit of the background of the beneficial owners of the local partners to PDS.

Meanwhile, government stated it was conducting a full enquiry into the matter, and the outcome would inform the next course of action as steps have been put in place to ensure distribution, billing and payment services to continue uninterrupted.

It assured the general public that the development would not interfere with the distribution of electricity services to customers.

BY ABIGAIL ANNOH

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