Senate wants 10% fund for hydroelectric communities
• Says NDDC awarded 1, 691 contracts without approval
• Restructures customs to boost IGR, plans prisons’ reforms
The Senate has proposed 10 per cent of total revenue for Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) host communities.In his lead debate titled “A Bill for an Act to amend the Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission, (Establishment Act), 2010,” David Umaru (APC, Niger East) said the proposed amendments would give legal backing to the 10 per cent HYPPADEC charge being deducted from the invoices of companies, including power generating and distributing firms, and retained by various government agencies, including the Market Operator (MO), the Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc. (NBET).
Umaru said the proposed amendments would reduce from 30 per cent to 10 per cent, the charge imposed on the total revenue generated from the operations of any company or authority operating hydroelectric dams in any member state of the commission.
He noted that host communities have been ravaged by flood, and others afflicted by water-borne diseases, environmental pollution and loss of lives and property. He stressed that the plight of communities in the HYPPADEC member states remained an issue of great concern to many of the stakeholders.
He noted that section 14 (2) (a) of the principal Act which the bill proposes to amend provides that “30 per cent of the total revenue generated by any company or authority from the operation of any hydroelectric dams in any member-state of the commission shall be remitted to HYPPADEC as one of the main sources of funds to execute its mandate under the Principal Act.”
According to him, the 30 per cent charge became the bone of contention among investors, market participants and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) leading to a demand for downward review.
“The demand was based on the fact that it became impracticable for such a large percentage of the total revenue of hydro-based electricity generating companies to be remitted to HYPPADEC without having an adverse effect on the performance of these entities, considering the capital-intensive nature of the industry and the myriad of problems inherited by these investors following the unbundling of Power Holding Company of Nigeria.”
In his remarks, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu who presided during the plenary referred the issue to the Committee on Finance which is to report back within four weeks.
Also yesterday, the Senate began legislative work to amend the Act that established the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) to reposition the agency to generate more revenue for the country.
To this effect, the Senate said it had commenced a comprehensive investigation into the activities of the NCS to identify and block all revenue leakages.
The Committee on Customs and Excise that is conducting the investigation said areas where the law is found to be defective would be reviewed in favour of the NCS.
Chairman of the committee, Hope Uzodimma, during an oversight visit to the headquarters of the NCS in Abuja said that the agency should be generating enough revenue to fund the nation’s budget.He expressed grave displeasure at a report by the Ministry of Finance which showed that the Customs Service had generated less than N400 billion in 2016.
While speaking at the end of the oversight visit, Uzodinma said the committee might resort to re-enacting the Act establishing the NCS for optimal performance.
And worried about the deplorable state of Nigerian prisons, the Senate yesterday advanced its move to transform all the prisons across the country to make them habitable for inmates.
Consequently, the upper chamber harmonised and passed for second reading the three bills seeking to repeal and re-enact the Prisons Act.The bills aiming at uplifting the state of prisons in Nigeria were sponsored by Babajide Omoworare (APC, Osun East), Oluremi Tinubu (APC, Lagos Central) and Shaaba Lafiagi (APC, Kwara North).
Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) is accused of breaching rules of transparency and accountability in award of contracts. The Senate Committee on Public Accounts, which indicted the commission yesterday, said the leadership failed to provide evidence of approval for 1,691 contracts out of the entire 1,697 contracts awarded by the commission to registered contractors between 2014 and 2016.
The Senator Andy Uba-led committee equally rebuked the commission for alleged failure to provide evidence of approval for the documented contracts.
The committee directed the commission to within seven days, furnish it with evidence of approval of all the contracts and relevant certificate of no objection from Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).