By BENNIE MUNDANDO
A MOLE within the Energy Regulation Board (ERB) may have stolen and leaked an incomplete report to The Mast newspapers depicting Zesco as a spendthrift, over-employed, and badly managed organisation.
Economic Consulting Associates (ECA), the owners of the “stolen” report, yesterday told the Daily Nation that assertions that Government and the ERB could have shelved the electricity Cost of Study report because it did not serve their interests, were false.
ECA, a London-based company contracted to conduct the study yesterday rubbished assertions that Government could have shelved the final report because it did not agree with its recommendations.
ECA director, Paul Lewington, said the study was yet to be concluded and that government’s stance on the matter was the correct position as the study was not yet concluded.
Mr. Lewington said Government was looking for another firm to complete the study after his company declined to extend its 12 months contract.
He said what was published in the media was not the final report but merely early stages of the process which was supposed to be fed into the final stage and that the published report was exclusively given to the ERB for onward submission to whichever company would complete the study.
“ECA declined to extend the contract when it expired after 12 months and the CoS study was not concluded. Reports were submitted to ERB but these were early stage reports that would have fed into the CoS. Those reports were prepared for ERB and we would suggest that you approach ERB for copies,” Mr. Lewington said.
Among ECA’s suggestions in the preliminary report was that it was inevitable to increase electricity tariffs if Zesco was to remain viable.
“Electricity consumers might dispute the payment of higher prices to cover the cost of these policies, but they have no legal powers to prevent it unless Zesco or GRZ can be shown to have been in breach of legislation or agreements,” stated the report.
“And if such costs are to be disallowed from Zesco’s, Zesco would make losses and would be unable to finance necessary investment, which would be worse for electricity consumers than higher tariffs,” reads the preliminary report in part.
On Thursday, April 13, 2017, Government launched the muchawaited Electricity Cost of Service Study conducted by the ECA in partnership with a Zambian firm called Utilink Zambia. The African Development Bank (AfDB) funded the study.