Madam Speaker, I beg to support the Motion on the floor and also to present the Report of the Joint Committee on Mines and Energy and Works and Housing.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2010 was presented to Parliament and read the First time by the Minister of State at the Office of the President, Hon Kwajo Tawiah Likpalimor on Tuesday, 4th May, 2010. Madam Speaker referred the Bill to a Joint Committee of Mines and Energy and Works and Housing for consideration and report pursuant to Orders 180 and 188 of the Standing Orders of the House.
Madam Speaker also directed the Committee to determine whether or not the Bill was of an urgent nature to be taken through all the stages of passage in one day in accordance with Order 119.
The Committee, after discussions with the Hon Minister, officials of the PURC and the Energy Commission, held the view that the Bill is of an urgent nature and therefore, should be taken through the stages of passage in one day in accordance with Order 119.
The Committee met with the Hon Minister of State at the Office of the President, Hon Kwajo Tawiah Likpalimor, and officials from the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission, Energy Commission, Volta River Authority, Ghana Grid Company Limited and Electricity Company of Ghana and
considered the Bill.
The Committee made reference to the following documents during the deliberations:
i. The 1992 Constitution of Ghana
i i . T h e S t a n d i n g O r d e r s o f the Parliament of Ghana
iii. Public Utilities Regulatory Com- mission Act, 1997 (Act 538).
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission was established by an Act of Parliament in 1997 and has since relied on government subvention to finance its operations. The situation has resulted in budget constraint which makes it difficult for the Commission to fund its operations.
Persistent calls from the public for an improved service quality by the utility companies require a very strong independent regulator (PURC and Energy Commission) with the needed financial, technical and human resources to effectively and efficiently monitor the activities of the utility companies.
The Bill is, therefore, intended to impose a levy on electricity transmitted by Ghana Grid Company Limited and on natural gas transmitted by a transmission utility as well as such utilities that may be licensed from time to time.
Government is, therefore, seeking through this Bill, to adequately resource PURC and the Energy Commission to effectively regulate the utility companies to ensure an effective and efficient service delivery.
4.0 Purpose of the Bill
The Bill seeks to amend the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act, 1997 (Act 538) to impose a levy on electricity and natural gas transmission services among others. The levy will serve as an additional source of funding for the PURC and Energy Commission. The Bill will also ensure that only those who benefit directly from the services of the regulated utility companies pay for the associated cost.
The Committee was informed that the PURC and the Energy Commission had challenges in monitoring the performance of the utility companies as a result of inadequate funding. Officials of PURC and Energy Commission indicated that the two institutions do not have the requisite equipment to monitor standards set for the utilities by the regulators.
The resul t i s that the Energy Commission for instance, is unable to enforce standards set out in twelve (12) Legislative Instruments. Coupled with this is high staff attrition in the two institutions as a result of poor remuneration. The passage of the Bill will provide the two entities a more reliable source of funding for monitoring and exacting compliance with standards by the utilities.
It was also noted that the market of the utilities was being deregulated with the introduction of private sector operators. It was, therefore, important that the PURC and the Energy Commission are empowered financially, to enable them effectively monitor the performance of the independent utilities and ensure that they comply with industry standards.
Decentralization by PURC
19 PURC (Amendment) Bill -- 27 May,, 2010 Second Reading
The Committee further observed that as part of its mandate, the PURC is to receive complaints from the general public and ensure that these concerns are addressed by the Commission or the Utilities. Unfortunately, the PURC currently has offices in only four (4) out of the ten (10) regions due to financial constraints. In order that the PURC meets this mandate, it is important that it establishes its presence in all regional and district capitals.
Impact on Consumers
The Committee noted that the impact of the levy on consumers will be very minimal. The Committee was informed that consumers who consume between 0 and 50 kWh per month (Lifeline Consumers) will pay only 0.05 pesewas. An average household that consumes about 200 kWh per month or GH¢30 per month will pay 0.25 pesewas.
The Committee, noting the importance of the Bill, proposes the following amendments to enrich the text of the Bill:
Clause 1, paragraph (b), delete and insert the following:
“(2) moneys received by or on behalf of the Commission shall be deposited to the credit of the Commission in a bank approved by the Minister responsible for Finance and Economic Planning.
The intendment of clause 1, paragraph (b) of the Bill is for the Commission to seek approval of the Minister for Finance and Economic Planning in opening a bank account to receive moneys for the