Electricity Bill Passed by Senate ‘A Load of Rubbish’

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Harry Greaves, the man who pressed for the passage of A bill to bring about plenty cheap, reliable electricity in Liberia, has described the version passd by the Liberian Senate as “a load of rubbish.”

The Senate’s passage of the bill came after several public hearings followed by weeks of work in committee rooms, culminating in a final debate on Thursday, during which the Senate unanimously votedon its 5th day of extraordinary sitting to pass the 2015 Electricity Law of Liberia.

The bill entitled: “2015 Electricity Law of Liberia,” was submitted to the Legislature for consideration in July by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. It was subsequently sent to the Joint Committees on Lands, Mines, Energy, Natural Resources and Environment; and Judiciary, Human Rights, Claims and Petition.

Greaves had also submitted a bill which called for a more independent regulatory mechanism for the electricity sector.

In his reaction yesterday, Mr. Harry A. Greaves, Jr., said though he has been receiving kudos for the passage of the bill by the Senate, kudos are premature, adding, “First of all, the bill has not yet been passed by the House of Representatives. That is
supposed to take place on Tuesday tomorrow. But more importantly, the bill that was passed was a load of rubbish.”

He observed that the “greatest flaw”in the bill [as submitted by President Sirleaf and passed by the Senate] is that it puts the independent regulator under the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy for three years.

“Can you imagine that? That time line bears a suspicious resemblance to the 2017 election calendar,” Greaves warned.

“As the U.S. ambassador remarked to me a couple of Fridays ago, what is the point of passing an electricity reform bill, if the regulator is under MLME? With the government acting as a player (thru LEC) and referee, no serious private investor is going to come here to invest. Only scoundrels (crooks) and knaves will show up. So, we will be saddled with LEC, which we all know cannot perform.”

According to him, the motive behind this is riddled with corruption, noting that President Sirleaf wants to micromanage the issuance of licenses, and no doubt people will have to pay a toll to get a license. Also, their eyes are on the $30 million that the European Union and the Norwegian Government have allocated to support the regulator over the next five years.

“When I mentioned the money to one senator, he quipped, ‘Oh, Ellen is looking at that money as campaign money for 2017’,” Greaves disclosed.

He said he had never thought about that angle, but believes that the senator may have a point there.

“Anyway,we do not intend to let nine months of hard work go to naught (zero). We will be undertaking a series of actions next week that will let the House know that the Liberian people expect them to pass a version of the bill that will enable the electricity market here to be truly open,” Greaves declared.

He is therefore calling on the general public to join him in “a massive march on the Capitol Building on Tuesday morning to let our representatives in the House of Representatives know that we elected them to work for us and for once we want them to work in the interest of the Liberian people. We want them to amend the 2015 Electricity Law that the Senate passed last Thursday so that the independent regulator is truly independent. We do not want the independent regulator to be placed under the
Ministry of Lands, Mines & Energy for two years. We want the regulator to be on its own, with its own staff and offices from the day it is established by law.”

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