Tariff Hike: DISCOs reject calls for suspension

18 February 2016, Abuja—The Electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs, yesterday, rejected calls by the Senate to suspend the new electricity tariff regime, arguing that suspending the implementation of the tariff will plunge the nation into continued darkness and as well diminished its prospects for future growth of the economy.

*Power distribution transformer.

*Power distribution transformer.

This came as leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and their civil society allies, yesterday said they were meeting with the Federal Government and the leadership of the National Assembly, to reverse the increase. NLC protest electricity tariff hike in Abuja The DISCOs also warned that absence of a market priced tariff would endanger the viability of the entire value-chain of distributors, generators, transmission and gas suppliers, resulting in the failure of the sector. Recall that the DISCOs had on February 1, 2016 commenced the implementation of a new electricity tariff, which would see consumers pay 40 per cent above what they currently paid.

But the Senate, sequel to a motion moved by Suleiman Nazif (APC, Bauchi), Tuesday, had unanimously passed a resolution, urging the Nigerian Electric Regulatory Commission, NERC, and electricity distribution companies, DISCOs, to suspend the 40 per cent electricity tariff immediately and go back to the old template.

Reacting to the Senate’s position on the new tariff, the DISCOs in a statement by Barrister Sunday Oduntan, Executive Director, Advocacy and Research, Association of Nigerian Electricity Distributors, ANED, noted that the absence of a market priced tariff would create the possibility of performance failure by the operators.

The statement read: “The Senate on Tuesday, February 16, 2016 passed a resolution directing the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, to suspend the recently implemented electricity tariff (MYTO-2015).

“However, implementation of this resolution is not without consequences and the following, a market priced tariff is a fundamental requirement under the agreements signed between Distribution Company, DISCOs, operators in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry, NESI, and the Bureau for Public Enterprises, BPE, raising the concern for sanctity of contract.

“The absence of a market priced tariff creates the possibility of performance failure by the operators. Such a failure will be at a price that the government can ill-afford in these times of dire economic challenges.’’

Meanwhile, leaders of Nigeria Labour Congress, NLC, Trade Union Congress of Nigeria, TUC, and their civil society allies, yesterday said they were meeting with the Federal Government and the leadership of the National Assembly, with a view to reversing the recent 45 percent hike electricity tariff.

Labour leaders and their civil society allies in a statement, reiterated their earlier position that on no account should Nigerians be made to pay for services not rendered by the private sector operators in the Electricity industry on the platform of electricity Distribution Companies, DISCOs and Generation Companies, GENCOs.

While expressing gratitude to Nigerians, especially workers for their massive support and participation during the nationwide protest rally against the 45% increase in electricity  tariff which took effect on  February 1,2016, factional president of NLC, Ayuba Wabba, said: “Since the nationwide rally,  the leadership of organised labour and our colleagues  in civil society  have been meeting with the leadership of the National Assembly,  with the Senate President, Dr  Bukola Saraki,  and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon.  Yakubu Dogara,  being  present to underscore the importance they attach to  this issue  which affects every household in  the country.

“We are also having a meeting with the Federal Government  under the Chairmanship of  the  Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF,  Babachir David  Lawal, Minister of Labour and Employment Senator Chris Ngige with a view to  annulling the 45% tariff increase.

“We wish to assure all Nigerians that we are focused on the main  objective of our campaign to ensure that the tariff increase does not  stand. As we have argued in the course of  the rally, we  maintain that Nigerians should not be compelled to pay more for darkness,  against the background of the flagrant disregard of the terms on which the distribution companies (DISCOs) and generation companies (GENCOs) were awarded our common patrimony in the name  of privatisation.

“These companies have failed,  for instance,  to provide prepaid metres as stipulated  in the terms of  their contract.  They  have instead continued  to  violate this special clause by charging and  forcing consumers to pay  the arbitrary tariffs they have imposed, even as they fail most of the time to provide them the required electricity.”

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