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06 July 2016

Subsidies unnecessary; we need sensible national energy policy – Pratt

Kwesi Pratt Jnr, Managing Editor, Insight NewspaperManaging News Editor of the Insight Newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr. has said the re-introduction of subsidies on electricity is completely unnecessary.

According to him, the country needs more radical measures to address the current power challenges it is faced with.

Speaking on Peace FM’s morning show ‘Kokrokoo’, he said “we don’t need subsidy, what we need is a sensible national energy sector policy to address the power problems.”

A massive public outcry over high electricity tariffs has compelled government to re-introduce subsidies on electricity.

Government last year removed subsidies on all petroleum products and utilities such as electrcity and water. Labour Minister, Haruna Iddrisu said the move had become necessary because the subsidies were hurting government.

He said government had to spend about Ȼ78 million every month on subsidies.

But in a surprising move, government has announced that consumers of the ECG will be given some relief by way of subsidies to make up for the high tariffs charged by the power distributor. The relief lasts until December, prompting accusations that this is for electoral purposes.

Addressing a press conference in Accra on Monday, General Manager in charge of Regulatory and Governmental Affairs at the ECG, Ebenezer Baiden, said depending on the amount of power consumed, both residential and non-residential power consumers would enjoy some subsidy from the government.

Consumers will therefore be paying 33pesewas less per unit of power consumed if they consume between zero and 50 units of power. This means that instead of paying a rate of 67 pesewas per unit if you consume between this bracket, consumers will now pay 34 pesewas for the first 50 units of power.

But Mr Pratt says there is no point in resorting to the re-introduction of subsidies when a long term solution could be adopted to solve the problem.

He was of the view that if every government building in the country should be covered with solar panels within the next five years, “one of the major problems is gone and government’s indebtedness to the ECG will go down drastically.”

He indicated that if government cannot import these solar panels, it could task the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) to produce them at a cheaper cost.

“Why can’t we do that,” he queried.

In support of the Convention Peoples Party’s presidential candidate, Ivor Greenstreet, who has proposed the utilization of wind to help solve the current energy challenges, Mr Pratt said the wind power potential is huge.

“Converting human waste to biogas for cooking and other things will not even take three months if we decide to do it,” he added.

If these and other energy generating measures are adopted, he believes that the country will no longer have challenges with energy.

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