City Backtracks on Overcharging

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK After denying that it has been overcharging its customers on electricity, the City of Windhoek says its “unapproved tariffs” came as a result of the announcement made by the Ministry of Mines and Energy. In response to a question on the City’s comment on the order given by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina, last week to stop overcharging its clients, a statement issued by the Office of the Chief Executive says that the 0.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) and not 0.4 cents per kWh was only implemented after the City was informed that the minister had approved the tariff effective July 01 2006. It termed this unapproved tariff as “very insignificant” and that the recovery as from August 1, 2006 would be reversed and credited to the accounts of its clients. Explaining how ‘insignificant’ the amount is, the City says for a low-cost house, the increase of 0.05cents /kWh ECB levy means ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚±0.20 cents/month or ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚±0.80 for the full period. For a middle to higher income household, this represents ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚±0.50 cents/month or ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚±N$2.00 for the full period. The City feels this amount was sensationally blown out of proportion by the media but added that in future, it will ensure that it obtains approved tariffs from the Electricity Control Board (ECB) on time. This will enable it to include all tariff-related matters in its yearly budget for implementation as from the first of July each year. “The City will strive to ensure that consumers are not burdened with costs related to the restructuring of the electrical supply industry before they are properly consulted and informed of this exercise and the related costs in that regard,” reads the statement. The Minister of Mines and Energy, Erkki Nghimtina, recently instructed the City of Windhoek to stop overcharging its customers and to stick to the electricity tariffs that have been approved by the ECB. This came after the electricity regulatory body ECB received complaints from several concerned parties alleging the municipality collects millions of dollars from its customers by using a non-approved tariff schedule. An urgent meeting was convened by the Ministry of Mines and Energy to find a solution to the impasse between the City of Windhoek and the ECB over these allegations. Recommendations from the meeting showed that the City was indeed using the unapproved tariffs and hence the order from the minister. Nghimtina proposed that consultative meetings be held between technical counterparts of the ECB and the City on financial matters in order to amend the current unapproved tariffs used with a view to correcting “the damage done”. These meetings will also serve as a platform to iron out all discrepancies. Nghimtina advised the City of Windhoek to approach its council with the revised schedule of tariffs for formal approval and endorsement.