Senate President Ahmad Lawan on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to review or reverse the privatisation of the nation’s power sector.
Lawan made the call while contributing to a motion on the “Power Sector Recovery Plan and the Impact of COVID-19 Pandemic” sponsored by Senator Gabriel Suswam (Benue North East)
Lawan said: “We gave them our common patrimony and they still come back as DisCos and GenCos to look for money from the public.
“The time has come to review and probably reverse this privatisation, if we leave them for the next 10 years there would be no power in Nigeria.
“Like I said before this motion was taken, the privatisation has so far not been successful.
“We expected efficiency, effectiveness in power supplies but probably on both sides, maybe the purchase agreements were not adhered to on both sides.
“What is obvious is that the DisCos particularly have no capacity at the moment to supply us power.
“The GenCos have challenges too. It is not good that we give them money we sold – these are businesses.
“If there are areas we must intervene as a government must be seriously justified.
“The way it is I think there is need to review this privatisation to see what has happened. Something is certainly not right.
“In the event that this thing does not work properly, there will be need for the government to look into it.”
Meanwhile the Senate after its debate on the motion resolved to “Commend the Federal Government for the proactive initiative to establish the N1.7 trillion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund to cater for issues that are critical to effective management of the Pandemic and to stimulate gradual return to normal socio-economic activities in the country.
“Urge the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance to include the Nigerian Electric Power Sector in the disbursement of the proposed N500 billion COVID-19 Crisis Intervention Fund.
“This was in order to ameliorate the financial hazards and operational challenges such as the enumeration of metering of actual consumers and recent problem arising from the pandemic.
“Urge the Federal Government to suspend the planned tariff increase which is scheduled to take effect from 1st of July, 2020 bearing in mind the increased hardship resulting from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
“Mandate the Senate Committee on Power to investigate all Federal Government interventions in the power sector since the privatization of the sector to date with a view to ascertaining the adequacy of such interventions and other desired impact, and to report back within four weeks.
“Mandate the Senate Committee on Power to investigate all market participants in the power value chain and ascertain the level of corporate governance compliance in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) and to report back within four weeks.
“Urge the Central Bank of Nigeria to allow operators in the power sector access to foreign exchange for procurement and materials like what is done in the aviation and oil industry.
“Urge the Federal Government to consider additional tariff support to cushion the effect of rate shock over a fixed period to allow time required for TCN and DisCos to access funds and implement performance improvements investments that will support increased tariffs to certain classes of customers especially during the pandemic.”
Senator Suswam in his lead debate said that the Senate is aware that at the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, “the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Finance intimated the leadership of the National Assembly of plans to establish a N1.7 trillion COVID-19 crisis intervention fund to be utilized to upgrade healthcare facilities across the country, stimulate agriculture, solid materials, power sector and also execute social intervention programmes that will benefit the masses.”
He noted that while the appropriate executive bill that will articulate the actual use of the fund is yet to be presented to the Senate for consideration, “the devastating impact of the pandemic on the power sector has necessitated the need for the Senate to draw the attention of the Federal Government to the need to include the sector in the disbursement of the proposed fund.”
He said that this is in view of “the vital role of stable electricity supply to current efforts towards jumpstarting the economy which is till groaning under the impact of the pandemic.”
Suswam added: “The stable and uninterrupted power supply is also a critical factor in the management of COVID-19 patients as well as in the implementation of the proposed upgrade of healthcare facilities across the country after the pandemic.
“Aware that prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) was already facing teething operational constraints including the absence of cost-reflective tariffs, inadequate enumeration and metering of consumers, limited access to funds for investment, poor revenue generation and high levels of aggregate technical, commercial and collection (ATC&C) losses.
“Generation Companies (GenCos) were owed 72 per cent of their revenue in 2019 while the Distribution Electricity Companies (DisCos) reported average ATC&C losses of about 41 per cent in the same year.
“All these constraints prevented the NESI from performing optimally across the power value chain.
“Alarmed that the COVID-19 pandemic has further impacted negatively on NESI as the DisCos reported a 50% loss of their average monthly revenue collection for the months of March and April 2020 respectively even as the Federal Government continues to harp on the need for a stable electricity supply.”
Lawmakers in their contributions supported the motion.
Senator Francis Fadahunsi in his contribution lamented that even though the Federal Government spent huge sums of money between 2006 till date, it has only been able to generate 6000 megawatts of power.
On his part, Senator Abubakar Kyari said: “I am not comfortable with the term cost effective tariff when no one has been able to say how much is spent in producing a megawatt so as to determine how much to charge. Everything is based on assumptions and something must be done about it.”
“The data that is being used to take decisions in the sector are incorrect, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi said.
Senator Uche Ekwunife noted that “There is no difference between NEPA and DisCos as power is hardly available in the rural areas.”
“I commend the initiative of the Federal Government for a stimulus package of N1.7 trillion in the COVID-19 intervention fund,” Senator Adamu Aliero said.
FCCPC: Electricity Topped Consumers’ Complaints In 2020
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) says it received the highest consumer related complaints from the electricity sector in 2020.
Speaking in Abuja on Sunday, Babatunde Irukera (pictured), chief executive officer of FCCPC, said the banking and telecommunication sectors ranked second and third respectively on the complaints chart.
He added that the aviation sector was ranked fourth.
“Our complaints resolution team is still a very small team of people and they are dealing with thousands of complaints,” Irukera said.
“We are looking at expanding capacity to have more hands handling the complaints but the real game changer in handling complaints better and faster is for companies to start doing it.
“The person who has the least open complaint in our resolution team has about 800 complaints across sectors and that is one person. If you multiply it by 12 to 15 persons, you will imagine the number of complaints.
“Being able to expand to a point where we are able to operate more efficiently, we will keep training, leveraging technology, the more we leverage technology, the more efficiently we can do our work.”
The commission was established by the 2018 Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Act (FCCPA) to promote fair, efficient and competitive markets in the Nigerian economy, facilitate access by all citizens to safe products, and protect the rights of all consumers in Nigeria.
FEC Approves CBN’s Request To Renovate National Theatre For N21b
Lai Mohammed, minister of information and culture, said on Wednesday that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), and the ministry of information and culture for the renovation of the National Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos.
He spoke at the end the weekly FEC meeting in Abuja.
The federal government, on July 12, 2020, handed over the national theatre to CBN and the bankers’ committee to signify the kick-start of the renovation process.
“This is a landmark approval because, it has paved the way for investment in the creative industry as part of the resolve of this government to create at least one million jobs in the next three years in the creative industry,” Mohammed said.
“The CBN and banker’s committee are willing to invest N21.894 billion to renovate, refurbish and commercialization (run it profitably) of the national theatre complex. The MoU has a life span of 21 years after which it will revert back to government.”
The minister assured that no job will be lost after the national theatre is renovated, adding that the “brand new national theatre, an event centre” will instead create more jobs.
Asides from this, FEC approved about N9.43 billion to complete the digital switch over (DSO) in broadcasting; N8.98 billion for a new national ICT park in the federal capital territory (FCT) to coordinate public and private ICT hubs in Nigeria.
The council also approved a new national policy on aging which would take care of the needs of the aged people across Nigeria; approved the ministry of water resources memo to construct Damaturu water supply project in Yobe state worth N8.43 billion.
Adesina identifies Debt Service As Greatest Risk To Nigeria
The President of African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, has warned that debt service is Nigeria’s greatest risk, even as he urged the federal government to take steps to increase tax revenue in the face of dwindling oil income.
The Director of Communications and Liaison of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Mr. Abdullahi Ahmad, stated that he spoke virtually at the recently held First Annual National Tax Dialogue .
Dr. Adesina was quoted as saying that due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, Nigeria’s economy shrank “by 3% in 2020 on account of falling oil prices and the effects of the lockdowns on economic activities,” adding, “with shrinkage in oil revenues, debt service payments pose the greatest risk to Nigeria.”
He stressed further that for Nigeria to overcome the pandemic, “taxes must form a significant percentage of government revenue. Digitalization of tax collection and tax administration is critical to ensure greater transparency of the tax system, widening of the tax base, while mitigating compliance risks and encouraging voluntary tax compliance.”
Tax experts and stakeholders at the event called for the automation of tax collection by the FIRS through data and intelligence in order to ease tax collection, as well as, improve revenue.
Executive Secretary, African Tax Administration Forum (ATAF), Mr. Logan Wort, harped on the place of technology in generating revenue for the country in a post-Covid economy.
Mr. Wort, who joined the dialogue virtually from South Africa, stated, “Domestic Resource Mobilisation (DRM) is expected to contribute at least 75% to 90% on average per country” in the post-Covid era, adding that Nigeria and other African countries should note, “improved tax revenue will have to take prime position” in the scheme of things.
He urged Nigeria to pay serious attention to e-commerce and the digital economy sector where big, trans-national digital conglomerates like Google, Netflix and Uber operate and make huge, tax-free profits as a possible way of increasing tax revenue generation.
He said Nigeria should borrow a leaf from Ghana in e-commerce taxation, projected to fetch Ghana $450 million in annual tax revenue.
Ekiti State Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, who was chairman of the Dialogue, was quoted as lauding the FIRS “for its performance in the 2020 fiscal year, despite operating in the most challenging period. The Service not only collected N4.9 trillion in taxes, achieving 98% of its target; only 30.6% of this was attributed to Petroleum Profits Tax, from what used to be over 50%”.
He urged participants to, “interrogate how Nigeria can further deepen the use of technology to improve tax compliance nationally and across sub-nationals.”