National Democratic Congress (NDC) parliamentarian for Bawku Central, Mahama Ayariga, has revealed he has never been in support of an ongoing process to engage the private sector in the management of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the country’s main power distributor.
Meanwhile, that decision to allow the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to play a key role in Ghana’s power sector was started by the NDC administration in 2016 under John Mahama.
Mahama Ayariga, a former Minister in the John Mahama administration said, on Joy News/MulitiTV news analysis show, Newsfile, that personally, he has always considered the deal as irrelevant.
“I don’t support that because it really saddens me to think that a basic thing [like power distribution], we are not even talking about the invention of electricity, we can't manage…I think we should rethink our position on the matter,” he said to the surprise of other panellists on the news analysis programme.
“The entire deal is unnecessary”, he added.
Despite the severe opposition from ECG workers and Labour against the deal, former President John Mahama fought through the deal that will bring about six concessionaires to participate in electricity distribution to homes across the country.
Workers had been concerned that the deal will result in job losses, and hike power costs.
Mahama Ayariga suggests that at the time the deal was being struck between the Mahama-led government and the MCC, he could not voice out his disapproval, hence he played along.
"My government took the decision but personally, I think it's wrong," he stressed.
But Deputy Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Joseph Dindiok Kpemka, who was also on the show questioned the rationale behind Mr Ayariga's sudden revelation.
Mr Ayariga explained to him:"The principle that if I am wrong I should admit that I am wrong is what I am following. We were wrong yesterday. This is the right thing to do. Do it and let’s see. If you don’t agree that it is the right thing to do, that is a different matter. But don’t question my principle on the basis that today I think that this is wrong.
He added: "Having served in government for eight years, having experienced how systems are run in this country, having come out of government, having sat and reflected on the situation, don’t I have a right, for the benefit of the people who elected me. to say that today I think this is wrong and let's rethink the way we have done it?
"This country we subject every position to some level of partisan scrutiny. Yes, yesterday it happened today the basic question is: is it right or wrong that we could do better if we put in place certain systems and mechanisms? If it is wrong, tell me that it is wrong. I don’t see why we cannot manage the distribution of electricity in this country ourselves and Americans have to come and do it."
He wants the current New Patriotic Party (NPP) government under Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo reverse the entire deal.
The ECG Private Sector Participation Activity under the ECG Financial and Operational Turnaround Project is one of many activities listed under the Ghana Power Compact Program signed between the NDC-led government and the United States of America acting through its Agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
The five-year $537 million Power Compact Program, comprises six major projects and designed to improve power supply in Ghana.
It is expected to encourage and catalyse private investments into Ghana’s power sector.
The deal is also expected to result in the improved availability of reliable power supply, thought to be a major requisite for transforming Ghana’s economy.
Akufo-Addo renegotiates deal
The agreement under the previous Mahama-government was that the concessionaires were to manage the facility for 25 years with 51 percent share to the private investor.
There was also a controversial issue about involuntary layoffs of workers, five years after the agreement has come into force.
But on assuming office, the new administration instituted some changes including making Ghanaian private investors the majority shareowners of the company -- 51 percent.
The government also changed the number of years the six private concessionaires would manage the facility from 25 to 20 years under a Compact II agreement worth over $498 million.