By Musa Adamu
Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue) has explained why the National Assembly has directed the Electricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) not to increase electricity tariff because of the current economic challenges occasioned by COVID-19 pandemic across the country.
Suswan, Chairman, Senate Committee on Power, made the disclosure in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Thursday.
He said that the increase in the tariff had to stop for now even when it was obvious that an increase, given the provision of necessary distribution infrastructure in the electricity market, would help the sector to be solvent.
Suswan noted that an increase in electricity tariff in this period would worsen the economic hardship faced by Nigerians, hence the intervention of the National Assembly to prevail on the DisCos to suspend the increase until the first quarter of 2021.
According to him, “Under a normal situation, an increase in tariff increase will help the operators to meet their remittances 100 per cent, and the government will not need to subsidize.
“Now governments all over the globe are giving palliatives to their citizens; in America, for instance, most of the people who fought for palliatives for not being employed receive some stipends weekly.
“Now, here we have people who are unable to feed family because of the COVID-19 pandemic and DisCos is saying it will increase tariff at the same time; we are saying yes, reflective cost tariff is the way to go because we need the sector to be solvent, but the timing is not auspicious.”
He also explained that the government had also reduced the petrol pump price because it did not want to increase the burden on Nigerians, observing that it would not make sense if DisCos increased electricity tariff.
“In the interim, the government will continue to subsidize petrol pump prices because that is the responsibility of the government, no government will want a situation where their citizens would be overburdened with prices of goods.
“So, that was why we stepped in and good enough with the decision we took, the president has agreed with us and said they should not activate the increase until certain things are in place,” he explained.`