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DisCos Only Accessed N58bn CBN Loan From N1.8trn Power Sector Funding – ANED

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The power Distribution Companies (DisCos) has said that out of the N1.8 trillion so far injected into the power sector, they have only accessed N58 billion loan from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) N214bn loan facility, which is being repaid.

According to Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors (ANED), Barrister Sunday Odutan in a statement, the firms have never gotten any free money from the Federal Government.

He said this explanation is necessary to help in setting the records straight as there is a belief that power sector operators including the DisCos have been given N1.8trn free money by the Federal Government since the 2013 power sector privatisation.

At the opening session of a public hearing on “Power Sector Recovery Plan and the impact of COVID-19 Pandemic” by the Senate Committee on Power on Monday, the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan in his address said, “Government should not be giving free money. 1.8 trillion naira has been given to DisCos maybe in their books. The actual money might have been given to the GenCos.

“Government cannot afford to just spend money that you hardly understand why it is given and I will advise the Executive that next time, to give such money, bring it to the national Assembly for approval,” Lawan had said.

But ANED in the statement said only about three percent of the N1.8 trillion funding for the power sector has gone to the DisCos.

The association said CBN in 2014 provided N214bn Nigeria Electricity Market Stabilization Fund (NEMSF) but that the DisCos were only able to access N58bn of that till date, “and that is on the DisCos’ account books as collateral for our Letters of Credit (LC) which DisCos are repaying every month.”

The N214bn fund was not only for the DisCos but to all players in the power sector, including the GenCos, ANED said.

It noted that the federal Government gave the Payment Assurance Guarantee of N701.9bn to the GenCos in 2017 through the Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading Plc (NBET) to help the power stations meet their gas obligations to sustain power generation.

Another N600bn was approved for the GenCos in 2019 through NBET for similar purposes. “However, the DisCos have only partaken in the N213bn NEMSF facility which is being deducted every month at source by CBN with about 10 percent interest rate for 10 years.”

ANED also reminded the government that at privatization, the N100bn commitment that was made by the government to cushion low pre-existing tariffs before commencement of tariff setting, was not implemented.

“The CBN NEMSF 1 fund was not a subsidy but a loan to address legacy gas debts and tariff shortfalls. The NEMSF Loans currently hamper DisCos’ balance sheets, worsened by the difference in Aggregate Technical, Commercial and Collection (ATC&C) loss as used in the Tariff Model in line with the reality.

“If the N100bn subsidy was given to DisCos, it would have reduced the liability of the DisCos for better services,” it noted.

The DisCos also decried cases of hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “As in other countries, recognition of hardship from COVID 19 should also be done by Nigeria. The Federal Government and its agents should embark on sensitization campaigns informing customers of the benefit of paying their bills and the need for cost reflective tariffs,” it advised.

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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Labour Warns FG Against Electricity Tariff Hike 

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The Nigeria Labour Congress faulted plans to allegedly sell the Transmission Company of Nigeria, saying it will lead to an increase in electricity tariff.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement titled, “This Kite will not Fly’’ on Friday.

Wabba explained that instead of allegedly planning to sell the transmission company, FG should focus on improving the electricity supply.

He described the attempt to hand over the TCN to a few ‘privileged’ Nigerians as self-serving, obtuse, odious, morally reprehensible and criminal.

The NLC president said, “The TCN is a strategic economic asset of immense national security implications. This is because the TCN traverses all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

“It will be wrong that our country will be deliberately exposed to an avoidable vulnerability and thus, provide an opportunity to others to restrain the Nigerian state.

“We apprehend that the planned sale of the TCN is only an attempt to further confound the people and concurrently raise electricity tariff. Unfortunately, this time around, Nigerians have had enough.

“The government cannot promise improved power supply to consumers by the planned sale of TCN. The under-the-table scheming as transparent privatisation cannot pass muster.

“It is an unsavoury narrative for our country, that even the privatised assets, which have survived the rapacity of the new owners, have been turned into unrealisable collaterals for unpayable loans.

“This constitutes a bone stuck in the throat of financial institutions and sundry creditors.”

Wabba explained that the plan would “fundamentally weaken the security of the nation and above all, deprive the people of their age-old investments in the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy”.

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FG To Consider Death Penalty For Rail Vandals – Amaechi

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The federal government says it may consider a death penalty for vandals of critical railway equipment in the country.

Rotimi Ameachi, minister of transportation, stated this on Monday, during a town hall meeting on “protecting public infrastructure” in Abuja.

On May 8, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the arrest of two persons suspected of vandalising rail tracks along the Kaduna-Zaria rail line.

Few days later, suspected vandals were arrested for destroying and carting away tracks and rail rods laid on a section of the Warri-Itakpe rail line.

On May 16, the Kaduna state police command said it arrested five suspected rail-trail vandals at Dalle Village of Jema’a LGA and recovered two trucks loaded with locomotive railway sleepers.

After the Warri-Itakpe incident, the senate asked the federal government and security agencies to ensure that those caught vandalising rail lines across Nigeria are given maximum punishment without a fine.

”I am not quantifying the material cost; what I am quantifying is the lives that will be lost,” Ameachi said at the town hall meeting.

“Imagine that a driver of a rail track is driving and suddenly bumps into a track that has been severed, what happens? It will derail.

“If it derails, can you quantify how many passengers that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money?

”Some people have recommended that since these people are killing people, if an accident happens people will die, so we should go back to the National Assembly and pass a law that does not only criminalise the action but consequences should be death.”

The minister also said track vandalism is carried out in collaboration with foreign partners.

”In Jos, they arrested a Chinese company that bought those tracks from them, went to court and found them guilty and fined them N200, 000. So there must be consequences as N200,000 is not enough,” he added.

“Lagos and the Western District recorded one, North Western 31, Northern District 10, North Eastern 43, Eastern 36 and North Central 50 incidents of vandalism. Abuja-Kaduna has 13, Warri-Itakpe 2 and Lagos -Ibadan nill.”

Amaechi, who frowned at traders selling items on railway tracks, especially in Port Harcourt and Lagos, advised individuals engaging in the practice to desist or face the penalties.

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