President of the Republic, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has charged the newly constituted Governing Board of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) to do all within its mandate to protect the interests of the Ghanaian utility consumer.
The PURC, according to the President, appears to be efficient when it comes to the review of utility prices but have neglected the function of protecting the interests of the ordinary Ghanaian when it comes to the kind of service delivered to them by utility providers.
In his remarks after administering the oath of office and the oath of secrecy to the board, President Akufo-Addo said the upward review of utility tariffs which is often perceived as the only function of the PURC Board must change.
The chairman and members of the PURC board taking the oaths of office and secrecy at the Jubilee House
“It would appear that the other functions, primarily, to do with the protection interest of the consumer and the delivery of quality services by the utility providers have been largely overlooked by the PURC. This perception can no longer be allowed to fester. It must change,” President Akufo-Addo demanded.
“As the newly constituted Board and in accordance with Act 538, the Ghanaian people demand that you protect their interest. In consonance with section 13 of the Act, I urge you to ensure that where a public utility provider fails to meet any required standard of performance, it is appropriately and duly sanctioned,” the President further said.
Independence of the Body
President Akufo-Addo assured the Board that in accordance with the dictates of the Act that established it, there will be no interference by government as it goes about its duties.
He however urged the Board to make endeavour to consult widely, with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that they get the necessary support in the discharge of their statutory obligations.
“As members of the Board, I need not remind you that you are not subject to the direction and control of any person or authority in the performance of your function”.
“At the same time, the statutory composition of the Board demonstrates amply the necessity of thorough stakeholder consultation in the successful fulfilment of the commission’s mandate,” President Akufo-Addo said.
Pledge of the Board Chair
In his response, Chairman of the Board, Ebo B. Quagrainie, noted that during their tenure, they (Board members) want to engage in discussions on the tariffs structure for electricity and water with all stakeholders. He further noted that it was his hope that the President will support them in championing gas price reduction in order to bring down utility tariffs in the country.
“We will also boost our engagement with stakeholders, keeping in mind that the tariff regime would have to have a cost recovery as the underlining theme to promote efficiency and growth in the energy sector. The commission will also ensure that our monitoring and compliance areas of the utilities are monitored closely to ensure high operational efficiency,” the PURC Board Chair, Mr. Quagrainie said.
Members of the PURC Board
The Governing Board of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) is chaired by Mr. Ebo B. Quagrainie, a nominee of the President.
The nine-member body also includes the Executive Secretary of PURC, Mrs. Mami Dufie Ofori; Dr. Kwabena Nyarko Otoo, representative of the Trade Union Congress; Dr. Yaw Adu Gyamfi, representative of the Association of Ghana Industries and Mr. Patrick Nyarko, representing the Consumer Protection Agency.
The rest are Professor Joe Amoako- Tuffour, Mr. Ishmael Edjekumhene, Dr. Nii Darko Kobina Asante, and Mrs. Dora Oppong, all of whom are nominees of the President.
President Akufo-Addo in a group picture with the governing board of the PURC after the ceremony
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) was established in October 1997 under the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act, 1997 (Act 538) as a multi-sector regulator to regulate the provision of electricity and water utility services.
The establishment of the Commission was part of the Government of Ghana’s utility sector reform process. By virtue of the Energy Commission Act, 1997 (Act 541) PURC also regulates transportation of natural gas services.
Under Section 4 of Act 538, PURC is an independent body and is not subject to the control of any authority in the performance of its functions.
The Commission however submits annual operational and financial reports to Parliament. The Office of the President also exercises some administrative oversight for the Commission.
The PURC has as its vision to be a model utility regulatory institution in Africa by building a credible and sustainable utility regulatory regime that protects stakeholders’ interests.
Functions of PURC
The PURC’s key tasks are to provide guidelines for rates to be charged for the provision of utility services, examine and approve utility rates, protect the interests of consumers and providers of utility services.
The PURC also monitors and enforce standards of performance for provision of utility services; promote fair competition among public utilities providers; receive, investigate and settle complaints relating to utility services, and advise any person or authority in respect of any public utility.
Entities directly regulated by the PURC are the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), the Ghana National Gas Company Ltd. (GNGC), the Electricity Company of Ghana Ltd. (ECG), Northern Electricity Distribution Company Ltd. (NEDCo), Enclave Power Company Ltd. and Ghana Water Company Ltd. (GWCL).
The PURC regulates other public utilities in generation by approving the Bulk Generation Tariffs (BGT) payable to them by distribution companies, reviewing the reasonableness of pricing under Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), and monitoring their quality of service.