*Wants electricity tariff hike suspended
*To investigate all interventions by government in power sector since privatisation
Lagos — The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday urged the federal government to make available an emergency intervention fund for electricity Distribution Companies, DisCos.
The senate’s resolution came following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP Benue) on Power Sector Recovery Plan and Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to them, the relief fund will enable the DisCos meet their remittance obligation to the electricity market amidst devastating impacts on market as a result of the COVID-19 breakouts.
In same vein, the senate asked the Federal Government to suspend the planned electricity tariff increase citing hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new tariff is expected to take effect in July.
Suswam, while leading debate on the general principles of the bill, said stable and uninterrupted power supply is a critical factor in the management of COVID-19 patients at isolation and treatment centres nationwide.
He stated that uninterrupted electricity is also important in the proposed upgrade of health facilities and in the manufacturing sector of the economy.
He said the financial obligation of Generating Companies, GenCos and gas to power suppliers would also be negatively impacted.
Following supportive contributions of senators on the motion, the senate mandated its committee on power to investigate all interventions by government in the power sector since its privatisation to date and report back in four weeks.
It also mandated the committee to investigate the activities of all market participants in the sector.
The senate also told the Central Bank of Nigeria to allow operators in the sector access to foreign exchange for procurement of equipment and materials as obtained in both the aviation and oil industries.
The upper legislative chamber also urged government to consider additional tariff support to cushion the effect of shock over a fixed period, to allow the Transmission Company of Nigeria and DisCos to access funds.
The senate noted that the funds would help operators to implement their performance improvement investments that would support increased tariffs to certain classes of customers, especially during the pandemic.
The Senate President, Alhaji Ahmad Lawan, said however, that it was obvious that the DisCos had no capacity at the moment to supply power to Nigerians.
Lawan noted that GenCos also had their own challenges in generating electricity, adding that it was not a good commentary to continue to give money to the GenCos.
“The way it is, I think there is need to review this privatisation and see what has really happened because something is certainly not right,” Lawan stated.
The senate, thereafter, adjoined its plenary to June 2.