A Deputy Minister of Energy, Joseph Cudjoe, says the Ministry of Finance is working to ensure that the energy sector debt, particularly that of the Ghana Grid Company, GRIDCo, is settled.
Workers of GRIDCO on Tuesday petitioned the Ministry of Finance and the Electricity Company of Ghana, ECG, after demonstrating in Accra over the Ghc1.2 billion debt and its impact on the company’s operations.
The workers have threatened a strike that could affect power supply if government fails to act.
The Deputy Minister in charge of Energy Finance and Infrastructure is however unsure when the debt will be settled.
“To the President, it is a very key issue. That’s why he has ordered the Ministry of Finance to give GRIDCo that respite. As to when it will happen, I think it’s the reason why the workers are in that red band. If I had the answer, I would have told you. But the Ministry of Finance is dealing with it because you know it has a programme to issue ESLA bonds and use the proceeds to settle the legacy debts and then fix GRIDCo’s problem.”
GRIDCo Senior staff Union on November 21, 2019, announced that ECG’s outstanding debt stood at GH¢607 million and another GH¢94,204,903.17 while VALCO owed it GH¢32,567,974.05 and NEDCo’s debt stood at GH¢177 million as at September 30, 2019.
According to the Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of Tema, Dominic Annang, if the debts are not paid, they will continue with their industrial action.
The staff in their petition to the Finance Ministry said the Ministry must act on a directive by President Akufo-Addo to make available to them some GH¢250 million to help them pay the debts.
They also said that the Ministry must order VALCO to settle their US$33 million debt to GRIDCo.
“[We demand that the Finance Ministry] order VALCO to settle the US$33 million it owes GRIDCo, which it claims is part of the legacy debt in the energy sector”.
“[We demand that the Finance Ministry] immediately orders the ECG to pay GRIDCo the GH¢94 million PDS collected on behalf of ECG during the PDS suspension.”
“[The Ministry must] immediately ensure that the cash waterfall which has been on the drawing board since 2014 becomes operational,” he said.
He added that; “It has been 7 months since that meeting [with President Akufo-Addo] and not a dime has been paid to GRIDCo. You will recall that the first ESLA bond which was raised by this government in 2017/2018, our colleagues, the VRA had about US$550 million to settle their debts to banks, but not a dime was given to GRIDCo to offset ECG and VALCo’s indebtedness to GRIDCo.”
Dominic Annang further warned that staff of GRIDCo will continue to embark on series of industrial actions if the Finance Ministry does not act immediately to settle the debts.
Meanwhile, the National Chairman of the Senior Staff Association of GRIDCO, Raphael Kornor, says the failure by the ECG, VALCO and NEDCo to defray their debts could plunge the country into darkness following the possible withdrawal of service by staff of GRIDCo.
“From 10th December if nothing is heard from this petition as to the payment, we are going to embark on a sit down action at our GRIDCo premises to impress on management to start disconnecting all those who owe us.”