From Ayodele Samuel, Lagos
The Federal Government has said a law stipulating stiffer sanctions for perpetrators of energy theft, perpetual bill default and vandalism of electricity equipment is on the way.
The bill is currently undergoing scrutiny in the office of the Attorney- General of the Federation, is aimed at providing a legal framework for the new companies to operate and collect their due revenue without let or hindrance.
Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises Mr Benjamin Dikki speaking to newsmen after a post-privatisation visit to Eko Electricity Distribution Company in Lagos said those engaging in sharp practices considered to be detrimental to the growth of the recently privatised electricity industry in the country have tougher times awaiting them.
According to him, it is the responsibility of government to provide an enabling environment for the new electricity companies to carry out their business activities without any disturbance or distraction.
Dikki said developments in the new companies since the takeover by private investors pointed to a bright future for the industry stressing that the amount being proposed to be injected into the system within the next one year by Eko Electricity Distribution Company alone was more than the annual budget of the Federal Ministry of Power.
He also said other initiatives such as technical partnership with a global brand like the TATA group of India and KPMG, exploring alternative source of power supply through embedded generation and novel metering plans among other innovations by Eko Electricity Distribution Company could not have been achieved under the old monolithic structure of PHCN within a time frame of less than a year.
On the request by the new owners for a cost-reflective tariff
structure in the industry, Diki said this may not be possible until a significant improvement in power supply has been attained.
Dikki said as much as the BPE and the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission would be willing to look into the possibility of having a cost-reflective tariff in the industry, the present power supply situation in the country would not make this possible for now.
Also speaking on the huge indebtedness of military formations and many government agencies to the electricity distribution companies, Mr. Dikki said President Jonathan has approved the deduction of debts owed by government agencies from their budgetary allocation.
The post-privatisation visit according to Mr. Dikki, was for the BPE, the body that midwifed the privatisation of the power sector, to have an helicopter view of the industry since the change of guards from government to private hands. He said the Bureau would from time to time, be monitoring developments in the industry.