Government has pushed forward the implementation date for the free electricity package introduced as part of measures to alleviate the economic impact of the deadly novel coronavirus on Ghanaians.
The about 86 per cent of electricity consumers in the country set to benefit from the package will have to wait two more weeks to begin enjoying the free electricity for the poorest people and 50 per cent cut in bills for other customers.
President Nana Akufo-Addo last week announced a 100 per cent absorption of electricity bills for the poorest of the poor who consume up to 50 kilowatt-hours a month and a 50 per cent for those whose consumption is above 50 kilowatt-hours.
“Government will fully absorb electricity bills for the poorest of the poor…That is free electricity for persons who consume from 0-50 kilowatt-hours a month for this period,” he stated in his address to the nation on April 9.
He explained the relief intervention is “to provide some reliefs to households for loss [of] income,” as a result of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in the country which has so far affected 636 people and killed eight of them.
Although the package was supposed to have started from April, many pre-paid customers who recently purchased electricity complained they did not enjoy the package causing some of them to wonder whether the power distributors were ripping them off their money.
Addressing a news conference in Accra Thursday to give further details on the package, Energy Minister John Peter Amewu said the power distributors could not have implemented the relief package because at the time that it was announced, the month of April had already began.
He noted that at the time President Akufo-Addo announced the package, some electricity customers, especially pre-paid customers, had bought their credit making it impossible for them to have enjoyed.
By the 9th of April when the announcement was made, he stated “some people had already purchased, especially the pre-paid customers and some people had already bought their postpaid so the April benefit will be derived in May and the May benefit in June and the June benefit will be in July.
“So if you already bought credit in April you wouldn’t see it reflecting but when you move to May it will reflect in May,” the Minister assured.
Under the circumstance, he explained that the implementation will begin from May and end in July.
I billion cedi cost
“Overall, the government is providing a cumulative relief of an amount equivalent to about 1 billion cedis, approximately covering a customer population of about 4.8 million meters across Ghana for the three months,” Mr Amewu said at the news conference.
For Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) customers, government is spending 244 million cedis every month as subsidy under the package and 732 million cedis in total for the next three month commencing in April.
The Northern Electricity Development Corporation (NEDCo) will receive 47 million cedis per month or a total of 141 million cedis to cover for the bills of its customers under the package.
For Volta River Authority customers, government will spend a total of 55.5 million cedis monthly or a total of 166.4 million cedis for the three-month period.
Meanwhile, he said persons who had their electricity meters disconnected for owing bills will automatically not benefit from the package until they make effort to get those arrears paid.