By Etuka Sunday
The Federal Government has directed the Suspension of intended electricity tariff hike by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
This, it said, was to promote a constructive conclusion of the dialogue with the Labour Centers through the Joint Ad-Hoc Committee.
Recall, the Federal government of Nigeria and the Labour Centers have been engaged in positive discussions about the electricity sector through a joint ad-hoc Committee led by the Minister of State for Labour and Productivity and Co-Chaired by the Minister of State for Power. Great progress has been made in these deliberations which are set to be concluded at the end of January 2021.
Some of the achievements of this deliberation with Labour are the accelerated rollout of the National Mass Metering Plan, clamp downs on estimated billing, improved monitoring of the Service Based Tariff and the reduction in tariff rates for bands A to C in October 2020 (that were funded by a creative use of taxes).
However, the Minister of Power, Engr. Saleh Mamman in a statement yesterday said, “to promote a constructive conclusion of the dialogue with the Labour Centers (through the Joint Ad-Hoc Committee), I have directed NERC to inform all DISCOs that they should revert to the tariffs that were applicable in December 2020 until the end of January 2021 (when the FGN/Labour committee work will be concluded). This will allow for the outcome of all resolutions from the Committee to be implemented together.”
He affirmed that the reports that approval had been granted for a 50% increase in tariff are inaccurate and false.
“It is unfortunate that these reports have led to confusion with the public.
“On the contrary, Government continues to fully subsidise 55% of on-grid consumers in bands D and E and maintain the lifeline tariff for the poor and underprivileged.
“Those citizens have experienced no changes to tariff rates from what they have paid historically (aside from the recent minor inflation and forex adjustment). Partial subsidies were also applied for bands A, B and C in October 2020. These measures are all aimed at cushioning the effects of the pandemic while providing more targeted interventions for citizens,” he said.
He however, noted that “the regulator must be allowed to perform its function without undue interference. The role of the Government is not to set tariffs, it is to provide policy guidance and an enabling environment for the regulator to protect consumers and for investors to engage directly with consumers.
“Bi-Annual Minor reviews to adjust factors such as inflation are part of the process for a sustainable and investable NESI and the Regulator must be commended for implementing the subsisting regulations while putting in place extensive actions to minimise the adverse impact on end user tariffs.”
He said, the Administration was committed to creating a sustainable, growing and rules-based electricity market for the benefit of all Nigerians.
“The Administration and the Ministry of Power will also continue to devise means to provide support for vulnerable Nigerians while ensuring we have a sustainable NESI,” he added.