Lagos — The National Assembly has put on hold planned electricity tariff hike scheduled to take effect from July 1 until 2021.
A statement by Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, President of the Senate said the decision was taken after a meeting with the Chief Executive of government electricity regulatory body and electricity Distribution Companies across the country.
“…the outcome of which is the halt in the planned increase in electricity tariffs”, he said.
The statement said the hike has now been deferred to the first quarter of 2021, adding that the National Assembly leadership will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari on the issue.
The DisCos had informed their customers of their intention to go-ahead with the hike despite clamours from different quarters, especially with the negative impact of the COVID-19 on consumers income.
“We were emphatic at the meeting that the timing of the planned hike was wrong even though we had not many issues with the need to introduce a cost reflective tariffs for the power sector to attract the much-needed investment”, he said.
He added that the agreement at the meeting was that there is not going to be an increase in the tariffs on July 1st.
“While we are in agreement here that there is no question on the justification of the increase but the time is simply not right and appropriate measures need to be put in place”.
“There is too much stress in the lives of Nigerians today and indeed across the world because of the challenges imposed by COVID-19 pandemic and even before then, we had issues that would always make it tough for our people to effectively pay the tariffs”.
“So between now and the first quarter of next year, our task will be to work together with the Discos to ensure that we put those blocks in place to support the eventual increase in tariffs”.
Lawan said the government has been doing a lot as part of its obligations to provide some form of Intervention for the power sector.
“I’m quite aware that for this year, probably starting from last year, over N600 billion was earmarked for this sector to improve”, he added.
The DisCos had on Monday called out both the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission, NERC, and the federal government of sending them warning letters not to mention their involvement as regards the intending hike.
According to an association which houses the DisCos, ANED, the said increment in tariff was done in collaboration with the NERC and federal government, describing as “unfair” to have made it look like the decision was unilaterally taken by the utility firms.
“We are in a regulated sector. We cannot take decision about a very critical aspect of the sector like tariff without a nod from the regulator (NERC).
“However, what has happened in recent days is that our regulator is warning us not to mention their name or the Federal Government in any of our communication about the tariff increase with our customers. This is certainly very unfair.”
“Many stakeholders have expressed their concern at the unusual silence of our regulator, NERC on the upcoming increase and it looks like a unilateral decision by the DisCos.
“We will like to inform Nigerians that tariff review (upward or downwards) is the primary responsibility of NERC as our regulator,” Mr. Sunday Oduntan, the Executive Director, Research and Advocacy, ANED said on Monday.