A new governing body of the Public Utility and Regulatory Commission (PURC) has been inaugurated and charged with the responsibility to address issues regarding the delivery of efficient and cost-effective utility services to Ghanaians.


The Board is also to ensure that the appropriate sanctions are meted out to utility providers that fail to meet the required standards of performance in the delivery of services to the Ghanaian people.


Membership of the Board includes Mr Michael Opam as Chairman and Madam Mami Dufie Ofori as Executive Secretary.


The others are Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, a Representative of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), Dr Yaw Adu Gyamfi, a Representative of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) and Mr Ebo B. Quagrainie, a Representative of the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA).


The rest are Professor Joe Amoako Tuffour, the President’s nominee, Mr Ishmael Edjekumhene, President’s nominee, Mr Emmanuel Sekor and Madam Dora Oppong, also a nominee of the President.


Inaugurating the Board at the Flagstaff House in Accra, Monday, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo reminded the Board that the Act of Parliament that established the Commission, the Public Utility and Regulatory Commission Act, 1997 (Act 538) to regulate and oversee in the provision of utility services, enjoined the Commission to, among others,  protect the interest of consumers.


President Akufo-Addo noted that even though the country had seen a mark of improvement in the accessibility of utility services, it was perceived by most Ghanaians that PURC’s main preoccupation had been to review utility tariffs which, most often than not, were re-adjusted upwards.


The President also noted that there was also the perception that PURC had equally shirked its other function of protecting the interest of the consumer and ensuring the delivery of quality service by the utility providers.


He said the perception should change and that the Commission should re-examine its methodology of reviewing utility tariffs, adding “As a newly-constituted Board and with the calling of Act 538, the Ghanaian people demand that you protect their interest as well,” the President stated.


President Akufo-Addo made it known that Government had, over the last 10 months, ensured that the supply and distribution of electricity improved.


He disclosed that government had issued 4.7 billion Ghana Cedis in 7 and 10-year bonds to settle a portion of a 10 billion Ghana Cedis debt overhang inherited in the energy sector and that the remaining debt balance was expected to be settled by the end of the first quarter in 2018.


On electricity tariffs, the President said it was necessary for Government to bring relief to the Ghanaian consumer and industry.


He disclosed that government had set out in its 2018 Adwumapa Budget plans to review tariffs downwards and made recommendations to the PURC for consideration.


In his response, the Chairman of PURC, Mr Michael Opam, said that the Board was committed to helping government pay off the lingering energy debt while they ensured that such huge debts did not occur under their watch.


Mr Opam pledged the commitment of the Board to charting a progressive course that would hold the key pillar of the economy by balancing the interests of investors and consumers in the electricity and natural gas industry.


20 years ago, PURC was established by an Act of Parliament, Act 538, to regulate and oversee the provision of utility services by the public utility companies, particularly providers of electricity and water.


It is also to monitor the standards of performance for the provision of the services, initiate and conduct investigations into standards of quality services to consumers and promote fair competition among public utilities.


However, PURC, off late, has been criticized by sections of the Ghanaian public that it had abandoned its responsibility to protect consumers in the delivery of quality service by the public utility companies.


Source: ISD (Rex Mainoo Yeboah)