The US Embassy has broken its silence on the state of its indebtedness to the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), saying it has not been billed for the past two years.
In a tweet Monday, the Embassy said it has been chasing the power distributor to submit the bill for payment but this has not been done.
The Embassy's tweet follows comments by Energy Minister, Boakye Agyarko about the balance sheet of ECG during an interaction with journalists and officials of Millennium Development Authority (MiDA). This was at the inauguration of a 7-member ECG PSP Stakeholders’ Committee in Accra.
The Minister said the debt stock of Ghana's power distributor is increasing by the day due to inefficiency.
Mr Agyarko added the inability of ECG to improve its balance sheets is because it has failed to collect debts owed it by entities such as the US Embassy and telecom giant MTN.
“I had a discussion with the managing director. American Embassy has 160 facilities in Ghana. They have not been billed for two years. So they went to ECG and said ‘look, we owe you money. Bring us a bill. Bring us pre-paid meters.
"We will use it for one year, and whenever we use, we will multiply it by 3 and give it to you.’ Up to now, the ECG hasn’t been able to do that,” he said.
The Minister's comment triggered a response from the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUWU) who described as "strange" Mr Agyarko's claim about the US Embassy.
PUWU in a statement released Tuesday said, "US Embassy does not owe ECG in terms of bills [so] if they were not getting bills, would they have paid all their indebtedness till date?"
According to the PUWU, the Minister’s claim that ECG’s debt stock appears to be worsening by the day due to its faulty metering system and avoidable employee recklessness is not supported by the facts.
“On the contrary, ECG’s currently average weekly collection is GH¢103,918,594.11, as against a target of GH¢130,000,000. This excludes indebtedness by MMDAs and Ghana Water Company Limited, which are state entities,” it said.
But US Embassy Spokesperson, Sarah Stealy told Joy News funds have been set aside to redeem the Embassy's debt owed ECG. She confirmed the tweets sent earlier on the handle of the Embassy (@USEmbassyGhana) authentic.
"We are going to continue to work with ECG to get the correct bill so we can pay," she said.
Reacting to the news, deputy ranking for the Energy Committee Adams Mutawakilu said the position taken by ECG is surprising now that the Embassy has come out to say otherwise.
“This is not surprising as several people in the country have complained that they have been using electricity for over two years and receiving their bills later.
“It is time to initiate investigations and ensure that the right thing is done,” he said.
Critics have also criticized the Embassy’s posture as painting ECG in a bad light and publicizing the power distribution company as inefficiency to make a strong case for the concessionaire.
The U.S government is giving Ghana the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact II which is also meant to invite a concessionaire to reorganize ECG.
But Mr Mutawakilu disagreed saying the liabilities are to be taken care off first before the concessionaire gets to work.
“It is known fact that the balance sheet of ECG has not been for some time now...it is good to go into the correspondence between the ECG and the Embassy," he said regarding the two years non issuance of bill.
He said the Committee would invite ECG for questioning.