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COSECA regrets stand-off in energy sector

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Accra, Oct. 4, GNA – The Coalition of Stakeholders on the ECG Concession (COSECA) has expressed disappointment at the turn of events in the stalemate between government and key stakeholders in the energy sector.

     The COSECA said since the beginning of this year,  it had made enormous efforts to prevent escalation of the stalemate and created a platform where all stakeholders including unions, on one side, and Government, Millennium Development Authority, and the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) management on the other side to dialogue on the matter.

     “The dialogues were useful and we made progress enough to prevent the Unions from taking decisions to strike or picket, and resorting rather to dialogue with government.”

     The sentiment was expressed in a statement signed on behalf of COSECA by Dr Steve Manteaw and copied to the Ghana News Agency.

     It said: “Unfortunately, the dialogue broke down; COSECA continued to urge the parties to return to the dialogue, but without success. COSECA warned that in the absence of dialogue, feud will escalate and could lead to legal tussles and a disruption of the Private Sector Participation (PSP) process. Unfortunately, what we warned against seems to be happening, we hope we can prevent the ultimate problem of disruption of the PSP process.”

     The statement said it was responding to news that the staff of ECG and their Union, the Public Utilities Workers Union (PUSU) have sued the Management of ECG and the Government of Ghana/Ministry of Energy over the ECG Private Sector Participation (PSP) which was part of the Millennium Challenge Compact II.

     It said COSECA has its membership drawn from groups with diverse and ideologically irreconcilable positions on the PSP, but who have found it necessary to reach out to each other in the supreme interest of Ghana, to work with the government and key stakeholders towards a consensus on how to enhance the ECG reform programme in ways that were more beneficial to the country and mutually acceptable to key stakeholders, including the workers.

      “Even as we regret the turn of events, we continue to hope that it’s not too late to return to dialogue, and ultimately ensure the power sector reforms ongoing, especially the ECG PSP is successful,” it said.

     The statement said the COSECA stands ready to facilitate a return to discussions between the parties, and urged them to take the opportunity to restart the negotiations.

     “Our understanding is that the present impasse revolves around disagreements over declaration of Redundancy and Severance pay. We observe also that the Minister of Energy has declared government’s willingness to pay severance.

     “All that is left relates to declaration of a formal Redundancy. In our view, the issue can be negotiated. Resorting to court to settle such a matter has the attendant risk of frustrating the PSP process. It is our firm belief that if parties are minded to, they can discuss and resolve this matter and not disrupt the PSP process,” it said.

     The statement said the COSECA restated its support for fundamentally reforming of ECG to ensure that the government control and interference was removed, to allow the company to operate on sound financial and management principles and ultimately ensure the reliable and cost-effective power supply to the people and businesses of Ghana.

     “We however also insist that things must be done well and in accordance with law. Above all it must be managed to ensure the least pain, suffering and loss to all parties involved.

     “COSECA wishes to remind all stakeholders of our proposal regarding the way forward for this exercise.  After much consultation and deliberation, we concluded that a Termed Joint Venture (TJV) between a pruned down and streamlined ECG, and the Concessionaire for the term of 20 years is the best way forward. ECG would remain active with the concessionaire taking over the areas where ECG has the most weaknesses. This deals with the actual problems of ECG and offers the least cost, most effective approach as compared to the other options presently in consideration,” the statement said.

     It said the TJV option avoided e financial burden on the government with regard to paying redundancy, and also deals with a number of other issues like monitoring of the concessionaire’s activities, ensuring effective technology transfer, and ensuring that the ECG was ready after 20 years to manage the system after the PSP was over.

     “This process therefore ensures the whole reform process goes ahead without the costs and other pitfalls associated with it,” and urged the parties to take another look at the proposal that enjoyed support from many of the stakeholders,” the statement said.

     The statement observed that with the President’s May Day 2017 speech which declared that 51 per cent of the concessionaire would be Ghanaian owned, the case for a TJV is further strengthened, adding that this would allow the concessionaire to offer shares to workers and other local entities, instead of one key technical partner.

     “We still believe the TJV offers the best option and urge stakeholders to take another look at it,” it said and repeated its call on the workers and other stakeholders, especially government to return to dialogue and ensure the success of the ECG reform and privatisation effort.

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