(LINA) – In an effort to boost and improve the country’s economy through the enhancement of the energy sector, Finance and Development Planning Minister Samuel D. Tweah has announced plans by the government to launch a vigorous campaign to combat power theft.
Tweah said as part of the campaign, the government will ensure that the monthly electricity bills paid by citizens, government ministries and agencies are realistic and safeguarded.
The minister believes that improvement of the nation’s energy sector will not only improve the lives of ordinary Liberians, but will as well enhance and boost the nation’s private sector, reduce the cost of production and create job opportunities.
Tweh, who is head of the government’s Technical Economic Management Team (TEMT), was speaking in Monrovia on Thursday at the Ministry of Information regular press conference.
“There has not been a change in tariff and that may not change until the problem of power theft is addressed through policy reform,” Minister Tweah added.
Tweah said the question of power theft remains a great concern to LEC and encouraged management and citizens, who are also crying out for connection across the country, to work together to find solutions to the situation.
According to him, power theft is now affecting the LEC from offering connections to many businesses who could offer much needed employment opportunities to many Liberians.
He indicated that, one of the reasons why prices of commodities are high is due to the high cost of LEC bills that business owners have to pay, noting that “if we have cheap power, definitely the prices of things will reduce.”
Among measures aimed at arresting the situation, the minister disclosed that the government is working on a legislation that will eventually criminalize power theft.
He said, those who are involved in the act will not just be cautioned, but will be penalize in accordance with the law.
“Power theft has the ability to put Liberia backward,” Tweah cited, noting that whenever this happens, the corporation cannot generate the money it needs to expand, and contribute to the country’s economy.
Among other things, the Minister noted that the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has being “a great help” to LEC by paying the management contractors.
According to him, through a conditional precedent arrangement with the MCC the government can gain additional support when it settles its financial obligations by paying LEC bills on time.
Tweah stressed: “When President George Weah’s government took over, it inherited a debt bill of US$6 million, and with the goodwill of the President and his support for the MCC compact, he mobilized US$9 million to pay LEC debt.”
He explained that the technicians at LEC were able to mitigate some of the problems relating to connections by introducing new transformers to replace damaged ones, stating, however, that the issue of power theft still remains a major problem in the country.
The Finance Minister then called on Liberians to quit the behavior of power theft as it is preventing LEC from extending supply across the country.