*As both partner on legal framework to protect investment in power sector
Lagos — The National Assembly, NASS has appealed to the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC to halt the implementation of hike in electricity tariff.
Sen. Gabriel Suswan, Chairman, Senate Committee on Power stated this on Monday when he led members of the committee on an oversight visit to NERC Headquarters in Abuja.
According to him, NASS was not opposed to the proposed increase in electricity tariff, but the timing of the exercise, he said, was wrong.
He explained that it was better that the Federal Government took the burden of the hike instead of Nigerians within the period, as the sector awaits activation of the service reflective tariff.
“Within this period, you could have taken some major decisions on the issue of metering which is very central. We at NASS are all informed of the challenges in the sector.
“So, we say tarry a while to allow Nigerians recover from COVID-19 pandemic. We will continue to appeal to you and give you all support so that we will not be solving one problem and creating a political problem.
Suswan added that it would like to work with NERC to put in place a legal framework that will protect investment in the power sector.
According to Suswan, what was in place was a Reform Sector Act which was put together by NASS in 2005 to enable government to privatise the electricity entity.
“We have gone beyond privatisation, there has to be an Electricity Act for the country that will touch on the issue of energy theft, how people will be sanctioned and those that bypass meters.
“And it will also create that environment that gives potential investors assurance that their investments are protected.
“Beyond the Reform Act, issues have cropped up that needed to be addressed, so we need a legal framework that will put in place enabling environment for potential investors.
“To have a sense of protection and NERC is supporting us on this project,” he said.
Suswan, while commending NERC on the good job it was doing, said the visit was for the committee to have a first hand information on the challenges faced by the regulator.
He said there was need to provide a conducive working environment for the commission to make them perform better in the regulatory function assigned to them.
Earlier, Chairman of NERC, Prof. James Momoh, said there was need to review the Electricity Act and Policy of government to make things work.
Momoh said a mechanism had been put in place to absorb the masses of the adverse impacts of the electricity hike.
“It is not going to affect the poor. We will make sure that the downtrodden and the people you feel for at the moment will not be affected by any increase we will be bringing forth.
“It will be based on the hours of service and the quality of power available there. We don’t want the poor to subsidise the payment of the rich.
“In other words, we must make sure that the poor are not sacrificed in the process of tariff increase,” he said.