Reps order suspension of increase in electricity tariff

Mr. B. Sapke (left); Dr. Moses Arigu; Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) representative,  Samshudeen Mohamood and representative of Minister of Power, Ahmed Abdul during the investigative hearing  on the proposed upward review of electricity tariff by Discos at the National Assembly …yesterday.

• Say NBET remains under ministry of power
The House of Representatives yesterday ordered the immediate suspension of the planned increase in electricity tariff by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).

The chairman of the House Committee on Power, Magaji Dau, disclosed the order during an interactive session with NERC officials. Also in attendance was Ahmed Abdul who represented the Minister of State for Power, Saleh Mamman.

Dau (APC, Jigawa) maintained that the increase was uncalled for in view of the appalling level of power supply in the country. Alongside members of the committee, he raised several posers on salient issues in the power sector and noted that the committee would liaise with its counterpart in the Senate to reach a conclusion on the matter.

He also faulted the decision to put the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) Plc under the control of the minister of finance allegedly on orders from the presidency.

He said: “We are not against a cost reflective tariff; we are only calling on the government to do the necessary things. There are so many unresolved questions. I pity the distribution companies (DisCos). There are locations they cannot even go to collect the tariff. They have a lot of debts. But we have to do it logically.

“On behalf of this committee, I will liaise with the Senate committee. I want to ask you to hold on until proper consultation is achieved. We want to have a smooth sailing. We have seen what happened in the communication sector; everybody is paying, nobody is complaining. We see what is happening in the petroleum sector; some are selling at N145 per litre, some are selling as low as N143, N142 per litre.

“But we are not going to allow you to charge different tariffs for different regions. It has to be uniform because the poor Nigerian in my village is the same poor Nigerian that is paying power in Nnewi or Ado Ekiti. People will not understand. You have to do a lot of media work for people to understand what you mean.”

Dau said further: “We are not stopping your work. The speaker has promised to make a wider consultation with stakeholders next week, to ensure that we are on the same page and we are doing the correct thing.

“We know what is happening in Kaduna Disco, Port Harcourt, Enugu. They cannot even collect money from some locations. So, we have to bring ourselves together to ensure that we are doing the right thing.”

He added: “Minister, the committee is directing you to send the necessary correspondence concerning the Multi-Year Tariff Order (MYTO) to the National Assembly. We are directing you to halt all activities on it until when the speaker has finished his consultations when the House resumes.”

On NBET, he said: “This issue is sad. I’m sure the president will not do it like that. The president is a law-abiding citizen. He cannot change the law. We must remove politics from our work.

“We are talking of the law. I’m sure somebody must have misled somebody somewhere. This law is yet to be repealed or reviewed. So, NBET still remains in the ministry of power, as far as this parliament is concerned, unless we change the law.”

Meanwhile, NERC chairman, Prof. James Momoh, had last week insisted there would be no immediate increase in electricity tariff.

At a press briefing in Abuja, Momoh said: “There is no immediate increase in tariff for customers. The proposed tariff review is what we are mandated to do as a regulator. We are to do it twice a year and we have done the first one around June. We have no other option but to do our job. We have done the review and it is subject to public consultations.”

Momoh said the commission was working hard to ensure that distribution companies provide meters to consumers, stressing a regulation would be out in about a month to enforce the metering of electricity users.

He added that there would be a maximum amount a customer without meter could be charged. “It will be to their own advantage to provide meters because the charges will not be to the advantage of the DisCos in the long run,” he said.

In August last year, NERC had published a minor review of tariff order indicating that from 2020 consumers would pay a maximum N14 addition for every kilowatt-hour of energy, depending on their status and their distribution companies.

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