PURC files application to dismiss CPA’s suit

The Public Utility and Regulatory Commission (PURC) has filed a motion with the High Court seeking to set aside a writ challenging the propriety of a recent hike in electricity prices.

The Commission insists the issues the plaintiffs- the Consumer Protection Agency and Kofi Capito, head of the Agency came to court with are matters of interpretation which can only be dealt with at the Supreme Court.

It is therefore asking the court to throw away the case of the plaintiffs on the basis of lack of jurisdiction.

Kofi Kapito late last week filed a writ at the High Court questioning the fairness and legality of a 59 per cent hike in electricity prices which ought to have taken effect on Monday December 14, 2015.

He stated among other things, the hikes were insensitive and did not take into consideration the current plight being endured by consumers under the load shedding regime.

Four other companies including the Volta River Authority, the Electricity Corporation of Ghana and the Ghana Grid Company Limited were also roped in he suit.

“As of the date 1st Defendant (PURC) announced the 59.2% electricity tariff increase, ‘Dumsor’ is in full force with no clear date for its abatement or end.

“Plaintiffs maintain that the power and authority of 1st Defendant (PURC) to approve electricity tariffs such as the 59.2% announced recently is discretionary pursuant to Article 296 of the 1992 Constitution which imposes a duty on it to be fair and candid.

The plaintiffs contended it is unfair for the PURC to approve a 59.2% increment in electricity tariffs at the time GoG, the sole owner of VRA, GRIDco, ECG is indebted to them as a result of inability to pay for electricity supplied to a number of Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) OF GoG.

The plaintiffs therefore sought an order of “perpetual injunction restraining the PURC and the ECG, their officials, privies, servants, hirelings and underlings and/or any person claiming through them jointly and/or severally and howsoever from charging the illegal price.

The PURC has filed a counter motion. A copy of the motion dated 15 December, 2015 and which is in the possession of Myjoyonline.com states that the plaintiffs have concealed the writ in a form of a personal action when in fact they are in for a “full blown constitutional litigation.”

“That I am further advised and verily believe same to be true that to the extent that the plaintiffs allegations or compliant one of some purported infractions of the 1992 Constitution Article 296, the proper forum for the action should be the Supreme Court.

“That i further advise and verily believe same to be true that the nature of the reliefs sought by the plaintiffs, are in essence a call for interpretation of and or enforcement of the said constitutional provisions namely article 296,” the PURC averred.

On these basis, the PURC is asking the High Court to dismiss the case brought by the plaintiff.

The case will heard on December 21, 2015.

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