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62.3% Electricity Consumers Still On Estimated Billing ― NERC

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The Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), on Saturday said 62.3 per cent of electricity consumers in the country were still on estimated billing as at December 2019.

The NERC made this known in its Fourth Quarter 2019 Report which was obtained from its website by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.

The commission said: “Inadequate metering remains a serious challenge in the industry, with only 3,918,322 (37.77 per cent ) of the total customer population of 10,374,597 metered.

“With 62.37 per cent of the end-use customers on estimated billing, huge collection losses due to customer apathy have posed a serious challenge to the viability and sustainability of the industry.”

It said in comparison to the third quarter of 2019, the numbers of registered and metered customers increased by 699,850 (7.23 per cent) and 22,825 (0.59 per cent) respectively.

NERC said the increase in the number of registered customers was attributable to the on-going enumeration exercise by DisCos while the increase in metered customers was due to the roll-out of meters under the Meter Asset Provider (MAP) schemes.

It said: “The commission notes with concern that the additional 22,825 end-use customers’ meters installed during the fourth quarter fell significantly from the 83,768 meters installed during the third quarter.

“This poses risk to the Commission’s goal of closing the metering gap in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) by December 31, 2021.

“Although some MAPs have not fully commenced meter deployments, the low metering recorded during the quarter was partly due to the increase of 35 per cent in import duty on meter components.

NERC said it was already working with the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning toward addressing those issues in order to fast-track meters roll-out.

It said during the period under review, only Abuja, Eko, Enugu, Ikeja, Kaduna, and Port Harcourt DisCos metered additional customers.

According to NERC, the metering status of the DisCos as at December 2019 is: Benin DisCo, 53.71 per cent; Abuja, 52.39 per cent; Eko, 46.67 per cent; Ikeja, 40.38 per cent and Jos, 31.71 per cent.

Others are: Port Harcourt, 38.34 per cent; Ibadan, 32.21 per cent; Kaduna, 22.2 per cent; Kano, 18.36 per cent; Enugu, 41.26 per cent and Yola, 18.75 per cent.

The commission said it would continue to monitor the DisCos to ensure total compliance with the MAP regulations.

The commission also said the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) recorded N119.46 billion deficit in the fourth quarter of 2019.

NERC said the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) only remitted a total of ₦74.20 billion out of the ₦193.66 billion invoice issued to them for energy received and administrative charges during the period.

NERC said liquidity challenge was still a major issue in NESI in spite of the recent improvement in Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) losses by the 11 Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos).

“This is evidenced in the DisCos’ international and special customers’ remittances to Nigerian Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) and Market Operators (MO) during the fourth quarter of 2019.

“During the fourth quarter, DisCos were issued a total invoice of ₦193.66 billion for energy received from NBET and for administrative services by MO.

“However, only a total of ₦74.20 billion (38.32 per cent) of the invoice was settled as and when due, creating a total deficit of ₦119.46 billion including tariff shortfall,” the regulatory agency said.

NERC said Eko DisCo recorded the highest remittance rate (51.50 per cent) in the fourth quarter of 2019 followed by Abuja with 51.27 per cent remittance rate.

It added that although Jos DisCo’ settlement rate improved during the fourth quarter, its remittance rate of 19.57 per cent was the lowest in the fourth quarter of 2019.

NERC also disclosed that total market invoices were issued to the special customer (Ajaokuta Steel Co. Ltd) and the international customers (Societe Nigerienne d’electricite (NIGELEC )and Communaute Electrique du Benin (CEB) during the same period.

According to NERC, N29.50 million was issued to Ajaokuta Steel Company while N2.07 billion was issued to NIGELEC and CEB respectively.

The commission, however, said neither NBET nor MO received payments from these customers during this period.

“Although there has been a significant improvement, the challenge of low remittance to the market is still a concern to the commission as it is one of the main causes of the liquidity crisis facing NESI.

“Low remittance adversely affects the ability of NBET to honour its financial obligations to Electricity Generation Companies (GenCos).

“Also, service providers struggle with the paucity of funds impacting their capacity to perform their statutory obligations,” NERC said.

It, therefore, urged the DisCos to rapidly improve on their revenue collection from customers in order to fulfil their remittance obligations and mitigate financial distress in NESI.

NERC said to enforce payment discipline and compliance with the minimum remittance, it had during the fourth quarter, began enforcement action against DisCos that defaulted in the third quarter billing cycle.

Following the commencement of the enforcement by the Commission, all DisCos except Enugu DisCo have met their expected Minimum Remittance Threshold for the third quarter. (NAN)

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EndSARS: Insurers Pay N4bn Claims, To Pay More

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By Sola Alabadan

The dust generated by the EndSARS protest in October 2020 is yet to settle, as insurance companies in the country have already paid N4 billion as claims to over 2000 policyholders that were affected during the protest and more claims will still be paid.

The chairman of Nigerian Insurers Association (NIA),  Mr. Ganiyu Musa, made this known at an interactive session with journalists on Thursday in Lagos.

He also informed that the insurance operators are still collating claims which arose from the incident, assuring that all genuine claims will be paid as promptly as possible.

Musa said: “the number of insured businesses that were affected at the last count was about 2000 insured losses and the industry have settled over N4 billion claims in respect of the EndSARS protest. Once they are documented and completed, we have the commitment of our members that claims will be paid timely.

The association is on top of developments on the aftermath of the protests and will continue to encourage members to pay all genuine claims in line with the extant policies.”

On the Consolidated Insurance Bill 2020, he said: “NIA welcomes the review as it will align the Act with global best practice and promote the business of insurance in the country.”

According to him, the current insurance legislation is outdated and has made it impossible to do things that need to be done.

On the African Insurance Organisation Conference, AIO 2021, Musa said: “Originally planned for year 2020, COVID-19 was a force majeure due to health protocols and travel restrictions. With availability of vaccines, reduction in infection rate, coupled with relaxation of travel restrictions and other protocols around the coronavirus disease, the AIO Executive Committee and the NIA have agreed to hold it from September 4 – 8, 2021. A hybrid conference has been agreed and we solicit your support in hosting the best conference ever.”

Speaking on the Nigerian Insurance Industry Database /Nigerian Insurance Industry Portal (NIID/NIIP), the NIA boss stated that: “The Nigerian Insurance Industry Database was established to reduce soft market practices and eliminate fake insurance policies. The Association has taken a step further by creating the Nigerian Insurance Industry platform to enable vehicle owners purchase their third-party motor vehicle insurance cover from the comfort of their homes and telephones. So far, we are seeing a lot of traction on the platform across the states of the Federation and we are hopeful that other states will key into the project before the end of the year.”

On the Marine Module, he said: “As you are probably aware, the Central Bank of Nigeria has since integrated the NIA Marine Module into the National Trade portal and all insurance certificates required for import and export are generated from the portal.  This, no doubt, signals the end of fake Marine Insurance Certificates at the Ports.”

Musa further disclosed that he became the Chairman of the Council of Bureaux of the Ecowas Brown Card Scheme at its 37th Ordinary Session in January this year. “A major issue for the Bureau is domestication of Compulsory Brown Card in the country. We are hopeful that when all the fine details have been sorted, it will be implemented in Nigeria,” he said.

On the new NIA House Project, he said; “Construction of a befitting Secretariat for the association has reached an advanced stage and we are hopeful that the building will be completed at the end of the second quarter so that we can take full possession of the property and relocate our secretariat staff before the end of the year. Of course, we have had some delay in meeting delivery timelines due mainly to the outbreak of COVID-19 and the regulatory restrictions on number of workers on site at any point in time.”

On the initiatives on compulsory insurance, he said: “We have commenced discussions with Lagos State Building Control Agency, as part of engagements on the implementation of Lagos State Building law. We are also working closely with the state vehicle Inspection service on enforcement of Third Party Motor Insurance in the state. We are also engaging Kaduna, Kogi and Ogun States, and remain hopeful that other states will see value in the platform and embrace it. Out of the estimated 13 million vehicles in Nigeria only about 2,939,767 Third Party Motor policies are in force as at Apr 26, 2021.”

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‘It’s Suicidal ’, Labour Rejects FG’s Plans To Slash Salaries

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Agency Report

The Organised Labour has condemned and rejected the plan by the Federal Government to slash the salaries of workers in the country.

The President of the Nigeria Labour Congress, Ayuba Wabba, who said this in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, noted that the plan was tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers.

Waba said that NLC was shocked at a statement credited to the Minister of Finance, Mrs Zainab Ahmed, on the plan to reduce the high cost of governance by cutting down on the workers’ salaries.

”The minister also allegedly directed the National Salaries, Incomes and Wages Commission (NSIWC), to immediately review the salaries of civil servants as well as the number of federal agencies in the country.

”It is almost unthinkable that the government would be contemplating to unilaterally slash the salaries of Nigerian workers at this time,” he said.

Wabba added that, “the question to ask is which salary is the government planning to slash? It certainly cannot be the meager national minimum wage of N30, 000, which right now cannot even buy a bag of rice”.

He expressed the belief that the proposed slash in salaries was certainly not targeted at the minimum wage and consequential adjustment in salaries that some state governors were still dragging their feet to pay.

According to him, it is in public knowledge that the multiple devaluations of the Naira in a short time, and the prevailing high inflation rate in Nigeria, have knocked out the salaries earned by Nigerian workers across the board.

”Nigerian workers are only surviving by hair’s breadth. Indeed, Nigerian workers are miracles strutting on two legs.

”It is, therefore, extremely horrendous for a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to pronounce salary slash for Nigerian workers currently.

”This call for salary slash by Mrs Zainab Ahmed is tantamount to a “mass suicide” wish, for Nigerian workers,” he said.

While opposing the move, he demanded an immediate retraction and apology by the Minister of  Finance.

The NLC president, however, said that if there was any salary that needed serious slashing, “it is the humongous remuneration and allowances pocketed by political office holders in Nigeria, who do extraordinarily little but collect so much.

”Workers generate surplus value and revenue for the government.

”We do not constitute any unnecessary cost or burden to governance. It is also important to make the point that salaries are products of contracts governed by laws. They cannot be unilaterally adjusted.”

He said that many countries of the world were increasing the salaries of their workforce and extending social security coverage for their citizens.

According to him, many are providing all forms of palliatives to help their people through the terrible socio-economic dislocations occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Waba said that it would be completely strange for the Nigerian government to be thinking of a salary slash.

“This move is not only at great odds with global best responses to the COVID-19 pandemic but also in violation of relevant ILO Conventions and Declarations on Wages and Decent Work.

“We urge the government as a social partner to quickly respond to the demands by Labour for an upward review of salaries of all Nigerian workers.

“Nigerian workers have shown sufficient understanding with the government through the tough patches of the pandemic.

“Now, Nigerian workers demand reciprocity of our understanding. Nigerian workers demand an increase in their remunerations and allowances,” he said.

NAN

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Paying ransomt To Kidnappers Is Foolishness —Obasanjo

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Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, on Wednesday, has cautioned against the payment of ransom to kidnappers.

He, however, submitted that the government must develop means to deal with kidnappers and bandits heavily in place of ransom payment.

He noted that the governments of both President Goodluck Jonathan and Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) paid ransom to kidnappers but they denied it.

Obasanjo said he does not believe in payment of ransom to kidnappers and bandits, saying it encouraged criminals indulging in the act.

The former president berated any government that pays ransom, describing them as follies.

Obasanjo spoke on Wednesday at his residence in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while playing host to members of Tiv professionals Group led by Prof Zacharys Anger Gundu.

Obasanjo insisted that it requires a “carrot and stick” approach to fight insecurity challenges to a standstill.

He said “Some people are still reaching out, and hoping that lives can still be saved. But a situation whereby anybody thinks paying ransom is the way out, that person is folly. He is a folly. This is because when you pay ransom, you encourage. But if you are not going to pay ransom, you must have the means to deal heavily with it. You must have the stick to deal with it.

“Government has always paid ransom. Not only this government, even during Jonathan (administration). They paid ransom, but they denied it.”

Obasanjo expressed fears that those beating drums of division in Nigeria don’t think about the interest of the minority ethnic groups.

He added, “Where do we want those minor groups to stand? Wherever they stand, now they are by virtue of Nigeria’s present situation a little bit protected. But if Nigeria breaks up and they are in a smaller country, they will be oppressed. They will always be exterminated. Are we thinking of that?

“I believe that if we will get it right in Nigeria, any leader must look at Nigeria with the prism of the diversity of Nigeria. For as long as you look at Nigeria with the prism of your ethnic group, then you aren’t going anywhere, either your ethnic group or religious group.

“But is there hope? There is hope.”

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