Ghana: investigate ECG-PDS Saga - TUC Tells Govt

THE Trades Union Congress (TUC), Ghana, has urged the government to thoroughly investigate the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) - Power Distribution Services (PDS) scandal and expose all those behind the debacle.

Government on July 30, 2019 had to suspend the ECG/PDS agreement with immediate effect because it had detected "fundamental and material breaches" in PDS' obligation in the provision of payment of securities for the transaction, five months after the deal came into effect.

A statement signed by the Minister of Information, Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, announcing the suspension of the agreement said the demand guarantees were "key prerequisite" for the lease of assets on March 1, 2019 to secure the assets that were transferred to the concessionaire.

"Government is conducting a full enquiry into the matter and the outcome will inform the next course of action," the statement added.

But in a statement commenting on the matter, the workers' union said: "Ghanaians need to know all those who were responsible for this botched deal."

According to the TUC, "a transaction of this nature, which affects such a sensitive sector, should have been treated with highest level of care and tact. The alleged failure of [Millennium Development Authority] MiDA to verify and ascertain the authenticity of the guarantees submitted by PDS before handing over the assets and business of ECG to PDS will be shocking if it turns out to be true.

"The role of International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank, as a transaction advisor in this deal, needs to be properly appraised.

"The ownership of the consortium of domestic firms or individuals that are holding 51 per cent share in PDS must also be examined properly."

Although the TUC described the PDS deal as "self-inflicted," it commended government for "acting swiftly to protect a strategic national asset of a very high value when government had cause to suspect wrongdoing in the acquisition of demand guarantees".

"We expect government to expedite action on the investigations because if the impasse persists it could affect the efficient delivery of electricity," the TUC added.

On the conversion of 'take or pay' power purchase agreements to 'take and pay' as announced by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, in the mid-year budget review, the TUC said the government took the right decision to save the country cost.

"We support government's policy to renegotiate the deals to convert all Take-or-Pay contracts to Take-and-Pay contracts immediately. After a successful negotiation we expect to see a meaningful reduction in electricity tariffs," the TUC said.

In the meantime, the TUC said there was the need for the government to take advantage of the excess generation capacity to extend electricity to every part of the country.

"Currently, over 5 million Ghanaians do not have access to electricity. We cannot continue to pay for excess capacity when millions of Ghanaians are in darkness. We urge government to do whatever it takes and in the shortest possible time, to ensure that all Ghanaians enjoy the privilege offered by access to electricity," the Congress statement observed.

On the economy, the TUC hailed government for steadily improving the macroeconomic environment 2018 and first half of the year for businesses to grow.

Key among the indicators the Congress said included the growth of the real GDP (non-oil) by 6.5 per cent; drop of end-of-period inflation to 9.4 per cent; overall budget balance of -3.9 per cent of GDP; primary balance of 1.4 per cent of GDP; with gross international reserves being 3.6 months of imports of goods and services.

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