VRA staff risk layoff over assets sale
Energy sector analysts have raised labour security concerns with the government’s decision to sell off some thermal assets of the Volta River Authority (VRA).
They argue that the move may spark protests if unmanaged properly.
Government, through the Finance Ministry is seeking to sell majority stake in the thermal assets of VRA.
Deputy Finance Minister, Kwaku Kwarteng explained that the decision is also to limit the power authority’s mandate in managing hydro plants.
The workers union of the VRA has heavily resisted the decision.
They insist that the decision is an indication of being side-stepped by government.
But the Director of Research at the Institute of Energy and Climate Change Policy (IECP); Dr. Philip Adom tells Citi Business News there should be enough consultation to avert any crisis.
“If we are going to decouple that section of their responsibility to a private entity, then we have labour security. So they have every cause to complain that is why I initially asked whether enough consultations were done before government came to this announcement because if something is not done, then I find the decision very unfortunate.”
“I think the workers really have a case and if the issue of non-engagement is true, then that was unfortunate. By decoupling, obviously I mean giving the courage, I’m sure some people managed the thermal ….and currently we are not using them,” Dr. Philip Adom added.
Government on August 23, 2017, advertised the sale of at least a majority stake in specified thermal plants owned by the Volta River Authority (VRA).
The advertisement, which was placed in the Daily Graphic indicated that the sale forms “part of government’s efforts to restructure the energy sector.”
The Finance Minister, Ken Ofori Atta had given indications of involving the private sector in restructuring the VRA when he presented the 2017 budget in Parliament, saying a new entity will “hold” the VRA’s thermal assets.
He re-affirmed it in the mid-year budget, saying “Mr. Speaker, one key intervention that Government promised in the 2017 Budget Statement was the restructuring of the Volta River Authority (VRA) to bring about increased operational efficiency and private sector investments in the power.
Government has approved the VRA restructuring agenda submitted by the Ministry to Cabinet and processes towards the implementation of the restructuring agenda have begun under the coordination of the Finance Ministry.”
In 2016, employees with the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) embarked on a demonstration to protest the then NDC government’s plans to privatize ECG.
After a series of demonstrations however, the New Patriotic Party (NPP) government decided to review some portions of the agreement, explaining further, that it was a concession and not an outright sale.