Electricity firms can’t collect tariffs efficiently – Govt

power-transmitting-station24 December 2013, Abuja – After sacking over 50 per cent of the workforce of the defunct Power Holding Company of Nigeria, the new owners of the electricity distribution companies are finding it tough to locate revenue generation areas in order to collect their tariffs, the Federal has said.

It said some of the Discos failed to carryout thorough due diligence to ascertain the marketers and key workers that would have help their revenue generation drive before effecting the massive sacking in their respective firms.

The Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, confirmed this during an interview in Abuja.

He said, “The collection of tariffs has not been easy and this is another serious teething problem. People (electricity consumer) who are not using prepaid smart meters are being given estimated bills.

“Unfortunately, another mistake was that the Disco owners without due diligence sacked many of the workers. And some of these sacked workers were people who were very good at collecting these tariffs.”

Our correspondent gathered that the development was currently telling on the fortunes of the firms as most of them could not remit their service dues to the Federal Government in the month of November.

Up till the time of filing this report, many of the Discos had not remitted their service dues to the Operator of the Nigerian Electricity Market, despite being threatened by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission of possible sanctions.

Nebo wondered why the CEOs of the power firms would fire unimportant and important workers without sorting out those that would be needed in terms of revenue generation.

He said, “You are taking up a company and you don’t know where the money is, and without consideration you eliminated some of the workers. It is obvious that some of them are corrupt, but throwing the baby away with the bathe water is not the best way to go.

“So you have a situation where one is expecting so much money and losing a fraction of his accounts. It is a chain and if you don’t collect that money, how does TCN (Transmission Company of Nigeria) service its facilities? How do the generation companies get paid?

“Therefore what happens at the Discos end definitely affects the generation companies because they need to pay for the gas. And the gas doesn’t come cheap. If they shut up the gas it will affect the entire system. So this is a problem.”

When contacted, a CEO with one of the Discos stated that some of the affected power firms had started recalling “vital sacked workers.”

The official who requested not to be named in print, said, “When starting a company you are bound to make some mistakes. What you try to do is to make sure that these mistakes are not much but mistakes that can be corrected should be corrected speedily.”

– The Punch

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