ECG Board Challenges $720,000 Fine Imposed by Utilities Regulator

Dispute between ECG board and PURC over $720,000 fine highlights challenges in regulating public utilities and holding board members accountable in Ghana's utility sector.

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Ebenezer Mensah
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ECG Board Challenges $720,000 Fine Imposed by Utilities Regulator

ECG Board Challenges $720,000 Fine Imposed by Utilities Regulator

The governing board of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has strongly objected to a GH¢5.8 million ($720,000) fine imposed by the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) over the company's failure to provide a load-shedding timetable. The board's legal representatives argued that PURC lacked the authority to levy such fines on board members who were not directly involved in day-to-day operations and should not be held personally liable for management decisions.

The lawyers contended that the fines were imposed without giving the board an opportunity to present their case, violating principles of natural justice. "The Commission's order imposing the regulatory charges is unlawful, null, and void, as it was done without giving the board an opportunity to present their case, violating the principles of natural justice," the lawyers stated. They emphasized that PURC can only impose regulatory charges on a public utility, not its officers, and that holding board members personally liable exceeds the Commission's jurisdiction.

The board rejected the PURC's order, stating that it is "unlawful, null and void" as the Commission has "unlawfully clothed itself with the powers of the High Court" and imposed a sentence on the board members without a hearing. The board argues that they are not responsible for the day-to-day operations of ECG and cannot be held accountable for any infractions.

Why this matters: The dispute between the ECG board and the PURC highlights the challenges in regulating public utilities and ensuring accountability for service delivery. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for the extent of regulatory powers and the personal liability of board members in Ghana's utility sector.

Former PURC Chairman Kwame Pianim praised the Commission for its decisive action and emphasized the importance of the Cash Waterfall Mechanism, which mandates the prioritization of raw material payments over self-compensation. He warned that ignorance of such policies is no excuse and called for national support for the regulatory body to ensure proper regulation of the ECG and protect consumer interests.

Key Takeaways

  • ECG board challenges PURC's $720,000 fine for failing to provide load-shedding timetable.
  • Board argues PURC lacks authority to fine board members not involved in daily operations.
  • Board claims PURC violated natural justice by not allowing them to present their case.
  • Former PURC chair praises decisive action, calls for support to regulate utilities effectively.
  • Dispute highlights challenges in regulating public utilities and board member accountability.