AT LEAST GH₵1.2 billion has been released by government as part-payment of the free electricity and water bills for consumers since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in Ghana.
Designated Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Ken Ofori-Atta, who disclosed this, said ECG had at least received over GH₵1billion as part payment to keep the lights on until now.
In the case of the Ghana Water Company Limited (GWCL), the minister-designate said it had received about GH¢180 million to cover free water to the general public since the outbreak of Covid-19.
Total budget on the relief programme by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning amounted to at least GH₵1.8 billion.
All such expenditures were made in spite of a massive drop in revenues including a significant decline of $1.6 billion in crude oil export receipts on the back of low prices.
The Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) has also since the outbreak collected GH₵45,338.69 million in revenues. It said it only missed its target by over GH₵1,915.26 million (GH₵1.9 billion) despite the pandemic.
Teachers on government payroll, though never worked for at least nine months, received their salaries.
Despite all such expenditure, government was able to grow the economy by at least 0.9 per cent.
It would be recalled that the Finance Minister-designate made the announcement of the free utility reliefs in the 2020 Mid-Year Budget to Parliament.
The free water and electricity relief which was extended to December 2020 got extended again for lifeline consumers from January – March 2021.
Mr. Ofori-Atta stated in his last budget statement to Parliament that lifeline electricity consumers and households whose water usage did not exceed five cubic metres per month would not pay for the utilities for January, February and March, 2021. He also gave assurance that these would be reviewed at the end of March, this year.