Liberia: ‘Free Electricity During Lockdown Not Feasible’-LEC

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Liberia’s Electricity Corporation (LEC) has indicated that President George Weah’s stimulus package plan to provide free electricity for citizens during the lockdown under a declared State of Emergency is not feasible.

According to LEC, it is not in the position to provide free electricity.

The electricity company has said is only prepared to give US$20.00 coupon for a period of one month, but even with this option, it will be determined by the commitment of the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning to adhere to the demands of the LEC to give cash in advance.

The US$20 coupon, according to frontpageafrica.com, is based on what the average consumer pays for power in a month.

A total of US$1.3 million has reportedly been inserted in the budget to cover the coupon which LEC has agreed to pay base on taxes owed the government.

The LEC reportedly collects US$800.000 in monthly bills and will be getting US$1.3 million from the government for the duration of the lockdown. The company targets 65,000 consumers but only 25,000 pay every month.

The Ministry of Finance says it will shortly be releasing a detail explanation on how the tokens will be rolled out in the coming days.

“The truth is LEC cannot provide free power to all of its customers. LEC has a total connection base of sixty-five thousand, forty-five of those are household, while the others are businesses. The forty-five thousand household is a small percentage of the more than three hundred thousand households in Montserrado County. The question is, how do they provide free power when their production level cannot meet the demand? So, they worked out their own math and the calculation says during this period they can give only US$ 20.00 worth of electricity and that quantity of electric times the forty-five thousand must be given to them in money by the Ministry of finance.”

Recently, the government announced that as part of President Weah’s stimulus package approved by both houses of the national legislature, US$4 million was put into the account of the LEC for the provision of free electricity during the period of the lockdown.

However, the LEC says that amount was payment of arrears for services provided the government in the past.

According to Senator Conmany Wesseh, chair of the Senate Sub-Committee on Autonomous Agency, under the State of Emergency, authorities of the LEC and the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation have told them (Committee members) that they are not empowered to implement the president mandate.

“The truth is LEC cannot provide free power to all of its customers. LEC has a total connection base of sixty-five thousand, forty-five of those are household, while the others are businesses. The forty-five thousand household is a small percentage of the more than three hundred thousand households in Montserrado County. The question is, how do they provide free power when their production level cannot meet the demand? So, they worked out their own math and the calculation says during this period they can give only US$ 20.00 worth of electricity and that quantity of electric times the forty-five thousand must be given to them in money by the Ministry of finance.”

In his message, the President told the lawmakers that it is was important that the government shoulders the electricity and bill of households in the affected counties for the duration of the stay-at-home order.

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