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General News of Wednesday, 1 March 2017


PURC workers union calls for dissolution of ‘dysfunctional board’

The Workers Union of the Public Utility Regulatory Commission (PURC) has petitioned Chief of Staff Frema Osei-Opare over some “critical” issues at the Commission.

The Union in a three-page petition detailing the ills at the Commission is urging an immediate dissolution of the current "dysfunctional" Board headed by Dr Emmanuel Annan.

Union Chairman, Abukari Jabaru who signed the petition told Raymond Acquah on Joy FM’s Top Story programme Wednesday that failure of government to address their issues might reduce further the moral of workers.

"We might not want to prosecute our matters on the airwaves, but we want the Chief of Staff who is in-charge of our day to day activities to take up the issues," he said.

The utility regulator has been in the news following Joy News Kwetey Nartey's investigation in which over GHC400,000 was transferred into the account of PURC Executive Director, Samuel Sarpong by the Head of Finance.

The monies were collected in 2013 and 2015 from utility companies which according to the PURC documents intercepted was to fund nationwide public meetings on controversial reviews of utility tariffs. A senior staff of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) told Joy News part of the money was paid in cash to the PURC.

It was also revealed that a software the Commission procured at the cost of GHC200,000 does not work. A PURC staff who pleaded to anonymity said the software given to them was a demo.

The Union claimed staff members who disagreed with activities of Mr Sarpong and PURC Director of Public Relations Nana Yaa Jantuah are either transferred or victimised in their line of work.

A portion of the petition reads:

"The Executive Secretary (Mr. Samuel Kwadwo Sarpong) and the Director, Public Relations and External Affairs (Nana Yaa Jantuah) have constituted themselves into the full management and have taken decisions affecting staff welfare which have included the following:

a) Intimidation and verbal abuse of staff without cause

b) Victimization using transfers into departments which have rendered certain key officers of the Commission redundant

c) Interdiction of a Senior Officer of the Commission based on trumped-up charges and accusations

d) Total disregard for administrative procedures and systems such as Public Procurement Act, Financial Administration Act, ARIC and Audit recommendations, staff appraisals etc.

The workers also claimed more of the workers at the Technical Directorates have been transferred affecting the operations of the Commission especially when it has several projects it is working on such as Pro-poor Water Projects and Solar Installation Projects.

Although Mr Sarpong and Madam Jantuah have dismissed the claims, the workers want the PURC board to be dissolved by the government for investigations to be opened into the issues.

Mr Jabaru said the activities of the PURC Executive Secretary and Director of Public Relations require swift action from the Chief of Staff.

"We are talking about disregard for financial Regulation Act, and administrative procedure and transfer of internal auditor which are very serious issues," he said.