By Christiana Ekpa
The House of Representatives Committee on Power yesterday ordered the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) to put on hold plans to Increase the multiyear Tarrif, until consultations are made regarding the matter.
The House equally directed the Ministry of Power and the Commission to ensure that there is uniformity in electricity tarrif charges across the country, instead of the present situation where Distribution Companies (Disco) were charging differently.
The Chairman of the Committee Hon.Magaji Aliyu gave the order on Tuesday when the Regulatory Agency and the Ministry of Power appeared before it’s committee over the Tariff Increase.
Hon. Aliyu who frowned at NERC, Nigeria Bulk Electricity Trading (NBET) and other relevant stakeholders stressed that the Committee would not allow them to charge Nigerian people different charges for electricity usage, adding that the use of power for different purposes is the same in all parts of the country.
The Committee had insisted that the necessary steps were not taken by these government agencies before the announcement of the increament which is expected to take effect from January 1, 2020.
The Lawmakers who expressed displeasure over the recent development asked the minister to furnish the House with all documents to work with.
“It is the opinion of the House that there are things that should be done before increase, most importantly the signing of the bill on estimated billing before a new law”
The representative of the NERC Commission, Sharffudeen Mahmoud had at the briefing attributed exchange rate of the naira to the Dollar and other infation rate to reasons why the Agency deemed it fit to go on with the planned moves.
Mahmoud further informed the committee that “50% of Nigerians already have billing metres”, but was immediately countered by the lawmakers who said it was untrue.
He also hinted that current electricity price is N55 per kilowatt and the review is backed by law particularly the Power Sector Reform Act 2005. He said it is done twice a year by the agency to reflect changes in the economic fabrics of the nation.
Representative of NERC said by the rules of the commission, it was expected to take minor reviews twice every year.
The minister of Power, Saleh Mamman, represented at the hearing by the acting permanent secretary, of the Ministry Mr. Ahmed Abdul, while breifing Committee said the ministry is fully aware of the issue of multiyear Tarrif order saying the the review is being handled by NERC.
But their explanation was not acceptable to the Committee members who sighted the bill on estimated billing before the Presidency that is yet to be assented to .
The Lawmakers equally sought to know the portion of the act that gives the Commission power to have minor review twice a year.
But the NERC representative who could not answer the statistics of how many Nigerians have meters, said the act did not give them the power to review.
The lawmakers however insisted that the Customers must have meters before a new tariff, questioned the rationale behind the decision to increase tariff.