Your jobs are secure, minister tells PHCN workers

By The Rainbow

The federal government will not lay off workers of the Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) but ratherĀ  severe them from public service employment to enable them migrate to the private sector, the minister of Power, Chinedu Nebo, has said.

According to him, all outstanding benefits to the workers will be paid to them by the end of July.

The minister, who spoke at the second annual national workshop of the Chartered Institute of Brokers (CIS) themed: 'Transformation Agenda: The Real Issues in the Power, Housing and Energy Sector of the Economy,' said the current PHCN workers would be retrained and would be part of the new energy market or be engaged in other critical sectors of the economy.

He added that all bottlenecks to the current privatisation exercise were being resolved.

He said: 'We have great correspondence with union leaders and have agreed on all the fundamentals of the labour issues, verification of over 44,000 workers and will soon commence payment of their severance benefits.'

Also, the minister assured investors in the sector of the safety of their investments as well as increased rate of return on investment.

He said a plethora of investments were required to achieve the 40,000 megawatts target as mentioned in the Vision 2020.

He added that the ministry of power was already in a process of self-reform to equip itself with the right competitiveness and capabilities to handle policy issues as well as ensuring a conducive environment for investments in the sector.

Also, speaking at the occasion, Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), Mr. Benjamin Dikki, assured Nigerians of 'drastic improvement' in power supply by September, adding that power is expected to be stable by the first and second quarter of next year.

His optimism was hinged on the final takeover of the PHCN successor firms by private investors in the nearly completed privatisation programme of the power sector.

He hinted on current efforts which were at advanced stage to privatise the transport system and charged stockbrokers to take advantage of the huge investments opportunities in the exercise.

Meanwhile, the acting Director General, National Pension Commission (Pencom), Mrs. Chinelo Anohu-Amazu, bemoaned the lack of investable instruments to access funding from the untapped pension assets.

She noted that prior to the current reform programme, there had been 'a lot of monsters' in the power sector-a situation which had hindered the flow of pension assets to that sector.

She said pension assets were available for long-term investment but the safety of the funds needed to be guaranteed.

The acting pension boss lamented that there had been zero uptake of the infrastructure fund set aside by the commission mainly because there are no investable instrument.

She said pension funds would continue to be deployed in the federal government securities instrument as long as the dearth in investable vehicles persists.

However, President/Chairman of Council, CIS, Mr. Muritala Olushekun, said the institute had already commenced efforts at creating investable vehicles to access the pension assets but appealed for flexibility on the part of PENCOM.

He said the capital market was ready to provide financing to any kind of project.