COVID-19: Free Electricity, Water Cost Us GH¢143 Million – Ofori-Atta

Government pumped GHC143 million Cedis into the provision of free water and electricity for a certain category of consumers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This figure was contained in responses given by the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, when he appeared before Parliament on June 22 to answer urgent questions filed by lawmakers on both sides of the House.

With respect to the free utilities announced for lifeline consumers in 2020, Ofori-Atta said government had saved over a quarter of the total amount budgeted. “GH¢200m was made available for free water and electricity for lifeline consumers, out of this, ¢143m utilized.”

He explained further: “Though our response was bold and decisive and compassionate, it has also been costly. Mr Speaker, you will recall that on 30th March 2020, I made a statement to Parliament that the economic impact of Covid 19 pandemic on the economy of Ghana following the implementation of the coronavirus alleviation programme commenced.

“Furthermore, during the presentation of the 2020 mid year budget fiscal policy, I indicated that the supplementary request included the programme funding of ¢19.3billion from various funding sources to support the budget both directly and indirectly.

“On the expenditure side, an amount of ¢11.16 billion was programmed for Covid-19 related expenses. The difference of ¢8.14 billion was programmed to provide for shortfall in revenue. In 2021, the budget programme of a total amount of ¢4.6 billion for Covid-19 related expenses.

“It is worth noting that the Ministry of Finance mobilizes the needed financial resources whiles the various Covid-19 interventions and related expense were implemented by the relevant sector ministries and agencies.”

Government has stressed the impact of COVID and more recently the Russia-Ukraine war on an economic downturn that has hit amid rising cost of living and spiraling inflation.

The price of especially fuel has risen multiple times this year affecting the prices of goods and services whiles civil service groups continue to push for higher pay rise.