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Senate Will Pass New Electricity Law In August —Suswam

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The Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, Senator Gabriel Suswam, has assured Nigerians that the problems associated with the quality of electricity supply in the country would soon be addressed with a legal framework.

He said the Senate was putting together, a comprehensive Electricity Act in collaboration with the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission to tackle the challenges facing the consumers, the suppliers and the regulators.

Suswam stated this when he led the Senate Committee on Power on oversight function to the NERC headquarters and other power installations in the Federal Capital Territory, on Monday.

He said, “The legal framework that we have in place which regulates the power sector, was set up in 2004, just to enable the government to privatize the sector.

“Now we’ve gone beyond privatisation, and there has to be an electricity act for the country.

“The Act, which should be ready in August, will set a legal framework that would touch on the issue of energy theft, and the sanctions against those who bypass meters.

” It will also give potential investors to come and invest in Nigeria knowing that the legal framework for the country’s power sector protects them.”

The Senator said the electricity distribution companies operating in the country had acceded to the appeal by the National Assembly to suspend their planned tariff hike, which should have started in August.

He said, “The Act that established the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission gave it the power to make sure it carries out tariff reviews.

“To a large extent they have done that but we now find ourselves in a difficult economic situation at the moment.

“By their own programme, the distribution companies are supposed to activate tariff increase by the first of July this year but the National Assembly appealed to them to tarry a while so that Nigerians could recover from the economic shock before they can activate the tariff.

“As difficult as it was, they were able to accede to our appeal and that is why the tariff increase activation has not kicked off.

“That is not to say that it will not be increased eventually because the only way the sector can become liquid is for the proper tariff to be charged and for all consumers to have meters.

“The DISCOs respected us because they know the burden that Nigerians are passing through.”

Senate Committee on Power on oversight function to the National Electricity Regulation Commission.

Chairman/Chief Executive Officer of the NERC, Prof. James Momoh, said the electricity sector in Nigeria requires $2.1bn to provide additional infrastructure to boost supply, bring in investors and improve the quality of life.

He noted that the infrastructure in the sector had deteriorated with obsolete equipment capable of generating 13, 000 megawatts installed power capacity.

He lamented that only 5,000 mgw generated was available for distribution by the DISCOs.

He stressed the need for the country to invest in modern infrastructure to improve the supply because Nigeria would in 25 years, require 17, 703 mgw.

Momoh said, “We are putting strategies in place to service effective tariff to ensure that customers are not cheated in tariff increase.

“We are also going to ensure that the ease of doing business is emphasized and supported. We are also promoting local content to make sure that there is Metre for all electricity consumers in Nigeria.

“We are working with the Federal Government and the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure that there is every home in the country.

“We are on the same page with the National Assembly on a regulation that would ensure transparency and effectiveness,” he added.

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FCCPC: Electricity Topped Consumers’ Complaints In 2020

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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.

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FEC Approves CBN’s Request To Renovate National Theatre For N21b

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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.

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Adesina identifies Debt Service As Greatest Risk To Nigeria

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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.”

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