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Business News of Thursday, 21 May 2020

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Minority demands full disclosure on energy sector debts, calls out Amewu over ‘lies’

The Minority in Parliament has said a recent press conference by the Energy Minister, Peter Amewu, to announce that a huge debt owed the ECG has been cleared was merely a smokescreen.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC) spokesperson on Mines and Energy, Adam Mutawakilu, believes the healthy-looking picture that Mr Amewu painted during his press conference on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, failed to disclose other debts in the sector.

“What he refused to do is to take the total energy sector debt. What they [governing New Patriotic Party] inherited, what they have added, and what is left. That is what he refused to do. And we call on the Minister to, as a matter of urgency, let the people of Ghana know how much energy sector debt is left,” Adam Mutawakilu said Wednesday, May 20, 2020, in reaction to the Energy Minister’s press conference.

Mr Amewu said on Tuesday that the government has cleared the GH¢2.63 billion legacy debts owed the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG).

Addressing a press briefing in Accra, he said as at December last year, the government had paid the full amount of electricity bills and currently had a credit balance of GH¢500 million with the power distributor.

In order to remain current on bills expected to be paid by the government since assuming power, he said an annual payment of GH¢2 billion was made to the ECG from 2017.

“As of December 2016, when the National Democratic Congress (NDC) left office, the bill owed ECG by the government at that time was GH¢2.63 billion.

“On assumption of office, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) ensured that it was current on all the bills incurred during its tenure, from 2017 to date. On the average, President Akufo-Addo has paid GH¢2 billion annually to cover its bills with the ECG,” he added.



However, Mr Mutawakilu told journalists that the Minister deliberately singled out the ECG debts when debts to other players in the sector, like the Independent Power Producers (IPPs), commercial banks, suppliers among others, remain high. The NDC had in February said its estimate of the total debt in the energy sector was above GH¢ 10 billion.

Mr Mutawakilu, who is also a ranking member on Parliament’s Mines and Energy Committee, said debt owed the IPPs, for instance, is over GH¢1 billion.

“Since 2015, President Mahama made it clear that the Legacy Debt from 1992 to 2015 was 2.4 billion dollars and by the end of 2016 with the introduction of ESLA [Energy Sector Levy Act] it dropped to 2.2 billion dollars. So before President Nana Akufo-Addo came to power, he knew that the energy sector debt was 2.2 billion,” he said to emphasise his point for a full disclosure of the energy sector debt.

ESLA is managed by KPMG and it issues debt securities to service the energy sector debts.

Adam Mutawakilu has, therefore, called on Mr Amewu to tell Ghanaians how much energy sector debt is left to be paid; how much of the ESLA levy the Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo-led government inherited and how much of the debt has been paid.